18 May 2008
LIQOQO SUMMONS JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTION AFFAIRS MINISTER OVER ELECTION LAWS
How do you explain these provisions? – David asked
BY SIBONGILE SUKATI
Mbabane – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Prince David, was on Monday ordered to appear before Liqoqo (King's advisory council) to explain certain provisions in the Bills regulating the elections in the country.
Sources in the ministry of Justice said the minister spent the better part of Monday explaining to the Liqoqo (formerly Swazi National Council) why certain clauses were included in the draft Bills.
The meeting took place at the Lozitha Royal Palace and a majority of the Liqoqo members were present including former Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini.
Sources close to the matter said Labadzala were not pleased with some of the provisions of the Elections Bill and felt that it gave the Elections and Boundaries Committee (EBC) powers that they should not have.
Two weeks ago, in Parliament, Prince David hastily withdrew the Voters Registration, Elections as well as the Elections and Boundaries Commission Bills without giving any reasons to the legislators of the withdrawal.
The minister was supposed to table the Bills in parly but when his turn to do so came he withdrew them.
Before his actions there had been a debate in the House of Assembly on why the minister was supposed to table the Bills when the EBC had already announced the dates for the start of the elections registration, tomorrow (May 19, 2008).
The registration will run until June 22,2008 confirmed chairman of the EBC, Chief Gija on Friday.
According to our sources Labadzala sought clarification on provisions in the Bills that give the EBC powers to announce election dates and even be able to postpone election dates.
It would seem the higher authorities felt that only the king as the head of state should have the mandate of announcing such important dates.
Our sources further told this publication that Prince David was instructed to return to the king's advisory council sometime this week with the officers from the Attorney General's office who 'helped draft this Bill'.
Our sources informed us that Gcinaphi Mndzebele and parliamentary draftsman Sabelo Matsebula were just some of the officers who took part in the drafting of these Bills.
Contacted for comment Liqoqo Secretary Bheka Mabuza confirmed that the minister, Prince David had met with the committee last Monday.
"We met with the Minister of Justice as is the norm that we meet with ministers from time to time to discuss matters of the state," said Mabuza.
When pressed what the matters of state were Mabuza repeated his earlier statement and said 'just matters of state'.
He refused to comment any further.
Prince David when contacted last night refused to comment stating that he had already made a comment to another reporter.
During the debate in Parliament, MPs expressed their anger at the Prince and Prime Minister Themba Dlamini saying that they were being taken for granted.
The MPs wanted to know who had given the EBC the right to announce the dates for voter registration when the law allowing them to do so was still to be debated in Parliament.
Maseyisini Member of Parliament Magwagwa Mdluli said even the legislation that put the EBC in place and gave it its terms of reference was still to be debated in the House.
To the legislators it was already a foregone conclusion that they were expected to pass the law, hence the EBC had gone ahead and announced the election registration dates.
Legal experts advised the Times SUNDAY that the Bills were necessary so that they can be in line with the constitution.
The 1992 law provided for the Chief Electoral Officer and his Deputy whereas the constitution now speaks of the EBC.