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The powers of parliament have been usurped once again following the ‘secretive decision’ to stop a parliament select committee from probing the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and transferring such responsibility to an office linked to ACC.

Cabinet has been opposed to the probe from the start, which leaves us with the belief that there is something to hide. Who is it trying to protect and at what expense? While Cabinet can rejoice another victory over its foes in the legislature, the damage it has caused to the validity of what we call the supreme law of the land – our Constitution – is irreparable. To suggest that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is the rightful body to undertake a prerogative task of parliament, is not only insulting the intelligence of the public but a downright waste of taxpayers money. The Constitution provides Parliament with the powers that include conducting investigations or inquiries into ‘the activities and administration of ministries and departments as parliament may determine and the investigations or inquiries may extend to proposals for legislation’.

The public deserves to know on what basis these powers were stripped from Parliament. This is particularly important given a rise in constitutional violations that are seemingly becoming a norm. Just last week, we witnessed the police block people from freely leaving the country without having committed a crime. If the constitution guarantees right to personal liberty and freedom of movement, why did the national commissioner of police violate the constitution by instructing his charges to block members of the progressive formations from leaving the country last week? Section 26 (1) states that a person shall not be deprived of the freedom of movement which includes the right to move in and out of the country. What instrument was used to set aside this provision? The consequence of this act by the commissioner is lawlessness. It gives reason for citizens to violate the Constitution as they deem fit.

In its preamble, the Constitution aptly articulates how the people of Eswatini found it necessary to ‘promote and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of ALL in our kingdom in terms of a constitution which binds the legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and the other organs and agencies of the government’. In doing so, Emaswati were seeking a binding instrument that would help us live better together as a nation. Lest we forget, the Constitution belongs to all of us. It is not the manifesto of any group of society to use at whim.

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