6 May 2006Prince David berates MPs
Stories by Njabulo Dlamini
MINISTER of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Prince David once again berated Members of Parliament for failing to appraise themselves of vital documents, particularly the Elections Order of 1992 and the constitution.
The minister said he was disappointed MPs chorused the EBC was out of order in announcing registration dates (for elections) when the constitution empowered them so.
Bahlonishwa bonkhe bangene ehlatsini, he said, much to the dismay of MPs who mumbled amongst themselves as Clement Dlamini, the Kukhanyeni legislator, shot up and asked him to withdraw the statement.
He was at pains trying to explain to the legislators that the Bills before them were amendments to existing legislation (Elections Order of 1992) whilst one was derived from the constitution; Sections 90, 91 and 92.
“Previously, there were two major elections laws; Voters Registration and the Elections Order. These two legislation are still in force and my ministry has only proposed amendments,” the minister said.
For instance, he said the law talked about the Chief Electoral Officer yet this had been replaced with Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) under the new order.
Again there was reference to the Minister of Tinkhundla yet the constitution talked about a minister in charge of elections, the justice and constitutional affairs portfolio.
“Had somebody bothered to read the document pertaining to the constitution, they would have called MPs questioning operations of the EBC to order. The EBC is guided by the constitution and are subject to it; who am I as minister to poke in their affairs?
“Only the courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate over any matter whilst the minister only has administrative responsibility over such bodies”.
The minister said independence of the EBC was guaranteed in the constitution so that the announcement of registration dates does not arise in this instance.
further igniting the anger of MPs was when the minister stated that it was merely a formality for them to pass the law governing operations of the EBC since everything was in place.
It was the beginning of a war of words between the minister and Maseyisini MP Magwagwa Mdluli. The latter accused the minister of being defensive yet this was a serious issue.
“We’ve just received the Elections Order and Voter Registration you were talking about. What role do we play since apparently we are not needed?” he asked.
But the minister interjected, clarifying he never at any stage insinuated that parliament was useless.
It was Deputy Speaker Trusty Gina, chairing proceedings, who called everything to order and proceeded with the day’s business.