Home | News | SOME MPS DEMAND ANSWERS ON ‘GAWUZELA’S STATUS

SOME MPS DEMAND ANSWERS ON ‘GAWUZELA’S STATUS

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

LOBAMBA - The status of Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane, who has been declared a fugitive from justice, yesterday caused tension in Parliament.

Seeing that he was a no-show in yesterday’s sitting, some of his colleagues demanded answers. This, they said, was because they believed that had a warrant of arrest not been issued against him, he would still be attending the House of Assembly sittings. Yesterday was Simelane’s last chance to attend work or risk being arrested or lose his job as an MP.

This is because due to his self-imposed exile, Simelane has failed to report to work in the House of Assembly for the past 20 sittings. This is much against Section 98 (1) (c) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini which states that a seat shall become vacant when the holder is absent from 20 sittings of the chamber without the permission, in writing, of the presiding officer who happens to be the Speaker. Using Standing Order No.58, Nkilongo MP Timothy Myeni said he had been sent by the constituents of Siphofaneni Inkhundla to raise a concern on their behalf.

Interjected

Myeni could not finish his submission as Deputy Speaker Madala Mhlanga, who was on the Speaker’s seat yesterday, interjected and asked him to read out the standing order he was making reference to for the benefit of the House. Instead of reading it out, the Nkilongo MP reiterated that he was using Standing Order No.58, which he said he believed the deputy Speaker was aware of. He then flashed a copy of yesterday’s publication of the Times of Eswatini, saying it contained an article which disturbed him and the Siphofaneni Inkhundla constituents. The article carried the report that yesterday was Simelane’s last chance to keep his job.

Myeni was determined to get answers as he said, “There is something written in the newspaper which I would like to table and then debate. It is very urgent.”
Minister of Public Service Mabulala Maseko interjected by standing up on a point of order and requested that MP Myeni should read the standing order and be clear about what he exactly wanted. The minister said in his view, MP Myeni was raising an issue that touched on a member of the House, who was from another inkhundla.

At that point, MP Myeni mumbled in vernacular saying; “Aseningiyekele” (leave me alone) after which the deputy Speaker repeated what he had earlier said that for the benefit of the House, the MP should read the standing order. However, Myeni did not back down as he mentioned that the standing order was not with him but that he was clear about what it stipulated. “I have been here for a long time and I know what I am talking about. Allow me to raise an issue that is of great concern to the people of Siphofaneni. What I am talking about has to do with a member of the House, who was chosen by the people. This newspaper, which I will table, published that there is an MP whose term of office could come to an end today. I want to seek clarification from both you and the AG on whether what the newspaper published is true,” Myeni submitted.

Allowed
He said all he wanted was to be allowed to table the newspaper and then speak on the issue as he felt it was of paramount importance. Again, the deputy Speaker advised Myeni to follow the procedures and table the newspaper and the legislator did. As he was about to start his submission, he was interrupted by Gege MP Musa Kunene in his capacity as the Chief Whip of the House, who reported that a cellphone had rang even though he could not tell who it belonged to. After that, Myeni was given the platform to continue with his submission and this was despite that Minister Maseko had again stood up to demand that he became clear on the standing order he was using.

The deputy Speaker advised that Myeni should be heard and that if he said something that was against the procedures, the AG was present to advise. In jest, MP Myeni applauded the deputy Speaker, saying he was handling the proceedings of the House with integrity and that the minister was disturbing. As expected, the minister stood up to ask that MP Myeni withdraw his statement, saying it was not in good taste. Myeni withdrew and then submitted that he was at pains reading the reports that it was MP Simelane’s last day to show up for a sitting or else he would cease being a legislator.

Represented

“It also pains me that the people of Siphofaneni are not represented by anyone at this point because their MP is in custody,” said Myeni. Even though MP Simelane is currently on self- imposed exile after a warrant of arrest was issued against him, the Nkilongo MP used the word ‘uboshiwe’, which means he was in custody. “At this point, I would like to know if the people of Siphofaneni can get clarity from the AG and the Speaker since Section 98 of the Constitution makes reference to a member of the House who absconds sittings without permission from the two. What we know is that warrants of arrest were issued against three MPs, one of them being Simelane,” Myeni submitted.

He said according to him, Simelane was in custody since if no one knew his whereabouts, the police would have searched and found him. “Had there been no warrant of arrest, MP Simelane would have been in this House. Had there been no warrant of arrests issued, both MP Bacede and MP Mthandeni would have been here with us. What pains me is that we are not debating this issue and no one is offering any clarity,” Myeni stated. Elaborating, he said the constituents of Siphofaneni were worried as they last saw their MP when he was headed to Parliament and then heard about a warrant of arrest.

He said 4 800 constituents voted for Simelane and deserved the clarity regarding his term as their MP. Phondo MP Xolani Vilakati stood up to say he held a different view from the clarification requested by Myeni. He mentioned that he once heard MP Myeni say there was no Parliament in the country, therefore, wondered if he would get the clarification he had requested. The statement by the Phondo MP had most of the MPs in stitches but the deputy Speaker asked him to sit down.

The deputy Speaker then stated that MP Myeni made reference to an issue published in a newspaper, which he was not aware of. “For now there is no clarification I can give you. Maybe this is the opinion of the newspaper. Even the number of days referred to here I do not know how they were counted. I will hand over to the AG to respond,” said the deputy Speaker.

Advise

The AG, Sifiso Mashampu Khumalo, then stood up and first made it clear that he could not advise on the issue of the actual circumstances surrounding MP Simelane’s absence. He said all he could advise the House on was legal issues, which he was ready to do. “I must clarify that MP Simelane has not been arrested. Only a warrant of arrest has been issued. In terms of a warrant of arrest, the High Court issues an order that authorises the MP to be arrested or detained. As for whether his days have come to an end, well I think that is counted by the office of the Speaker,” said the AG. The AG also highlighted that Simelane’s issue was governed by Section 98 of the Constitution sub-section 1 (c).

“It is not for the AG to do the counting of the days left for the MP,” the AG stated. The deputy Speaker then said he could only assist by going to the office of the Speaker to verify on the number of days and then return with an answer.

Comments (0 posted):

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image:

: Budget
Should government include civil society in its yearly budget planing process?