10 April 2008
ELECTIONS TEAM TAKEN TO COURT
By Donny Nxumalo
PROGRESSIVES have filed an urgent application to the High Court, in which they want the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), headed by Chief Gija, to be declared unlawful.
The case will be heard by a full bench (three judges) next Tuesday and Wednesday.
The progressives are Jan Sithole, Mario Masuku, PUDEMO, NNLC, SFTU, SFL and SNAT.
In his affidavit filed at the High Court yesterday, Vincent Ncongwane, on behalf of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), says the EBC must be independent, and that its independence means it should not lean or be dependent on any authority or be seen to be in favour of Tinkhundla.
“In other words, there must be no perception that the EBC lacks autonomy, as is the case at present,” Ncongwane contends, “in order to guarantee its independence so as to manage a credible free and fair election, the Elections and Boundaries Commission must be multi-membered. This will ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are protected.”
Ncongwane contends that Chief Gija should not be in the EBC because as a chief, he should be rallying his subjects and motivating them to take part in the elections, as the ‘footstool’ of the Ingwenyama, saying that the involvement of a chief in the commission would undermine the chief’s authority as a symbol of unity and father of the community.
He claimed there is a conflict of interest with the chief’s involvement in the EBC.
On deputy chairman Mzwandile Fakudze, Ncongwane says Fakudze should not have been appointed to the EBC because he is a civil servant, serving the very same government that is an interested party in how the elections will be conducted. He says in that way, Fakudze will be biased and in favour of government should there be disputes around the conduct of the elections.
The NCA says the same applies to Ncumbi Maziya and Nkhosingumenzi Dlamini, who are also civil servants.
On Gloria Mamba, the NCA says even though she is a lecturer at the University of Swaziland, there is nothing to suggest she is qualified and competent to serve in the EBC.
The progressives are represented by Thulani Maseko while government is still to file her intention to oppose the application.