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MBABANE – The absence of deputy presiding officers during the preparations for the State Opening of Parliament has raised eyebrows.

This was clearly evident yesterday during the first dress rehearsal held in preparation for the State Opening of Parliament by His Majesty King Mswati III, which is expected to take place next week Friday.
The deputies are Deputy Speaker Phila Buthelezi and Deputy Senate President Ndumiso Mdluli.

For the past three weeks, when the preparatory meetings have been held, the Speaker, Petros Mavimbela, has been in attendance and the last two including yesterday’s, the Senate President Lindiwe Dlamini was in attendance.
The deputies normally stand in for the presiding officers when they are not available.


Interviewed on his absence from any of the preparatory meetings including yesterday’s rehearsal, Buthelezi, who is also Mantsanjeni North Member of Parliament (MP), said he had never been invited to any of the meetings.
“It is sad as it would be interpreted as if one is boycotting the preparations yet this is not the case,” said MP Buthelezi.

He said the State opening was for Parliament and that the chairman of the preparations was Clerk to Parliament Ndvuna Dlamini, who was the main organiser.
“I think he is the one who identifies people who he thinks are important for the occasion to be successful,” said Buthelezi.
This was after he was asked if he (Buthelezi) did not think that it was necessary for him to be part of the preparations, especially if anything could happen to the Speaker on the main day as he would have to stand in for him.

He said he had no way of knowing the dates if he did not get an invitation to be part of the preparations from the chairman’s office.
The meetings have been announced and chaired by Ndvuna since they started. He also announced that the final rehearsal would be held next week Wednesday.

Buthelezi said to show the gravity of the situation, he had to learn about the official date of the opening like the rest of the country’s citizens through the media.
He said he believed that the duty to invite people needed for the preparations rested on the clerk to Parliament.


Meanwhile, the clerk when contacted, said he believed that the politicians (Speaker and deputy) should be the ones to communicate among each other.
Ndvuna said he had already communicated with the Speaker and it only followed that the latter would communicate with Buthelezi.
“I could not then overstep the Speaker and invite his deputy,” said Dlamini, adding that he was not a politician.

However, Buthelezi insisted that for the State opening, the main person was the clerk to Parliament, who was the chairman of the preparations.
When contacted, the Speaker asked to give a proper response on Monday.

“I have called the deputy and we have scheduled a meeting for Monday and only then can I comment,” said Mavimbela.
On the other hand, the deputy Senate president said he had been aware of the rehearsal as he was informed by the Senate president. 
“However, I have not been well as I am on some medication, but I hope to attend the final rehearsal next Wednesday,” said Mdluli. 

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