Times of Swaziland
17 June 2008
S’gayoyo withdraws elections bill in Parly
BY ARTHUR MORDAUNT
LOBAMBA – It appears the controversy around the elections law is far from over as, yet again, an election law has been withdrawn in Parliament.
This time, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Bill, 2008 was withdrawn in Senate before it was tabled.
The Bill was withdrawn by Public Service and Information Minister Sgayoyo Magongo who was standing in for the incumbent minister, Prince David.
Magongo did not give an explanation for the withdrawal but simply apologised to the Senate President, Gelane Zwane and said he was withdrawing the bill pending certain consultations he had to make. He did not specify the type of consultations and where he was going to make them.
Before withdrawing the bill, Magongo first tabled two other bills from the same ministry. When it was time to table the EBC Bill, however, Magongo held a brief chat with Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Mathendele Dlamini.
Zwane had to call him again before he rose and made his apologies.
In an interview after the sitting, Magongo said Prince David had not briefed him on whether he should table the bill or not.
He said he was yet to consult with the prince and if he gave the go ahead, the bill would be tabled tomorrow.
This is not the first time the bill has been withdrawn. The first was about a month ago when Prince David personally withdrew the bill in the House of Assembly. He did not give reasons.
At the time, he withdrew the bill together with two other elections Bills (the Voters Registration Bill and Elections Bill).
He withdrew them after a fierce debate from the legislators who felt that they were being taken for granted. They said the minister was only bringing the bills to Parliament for formality’s sake as the EBC was already working yet the law empowering them to do so was being tabled by the minister on that day.
It is not clear how the bills would be brought back to Parliament as the Standing Orders stipulate that a withdrawn bill cannot be brought back within the same session. However, the tricky part now is that this is the last session of the 8th Parliament and the withdrawn laws are for conducting the next elections to be held between July and August.