Times of Swaziland
25 July 2008
AG tells judges to ‘back off’
MBABANE – The Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini stunned many yesterday during the elections case.
This was when he told judicial officers that to determine the character of the country’s system of governance was way beyond their domain.
This transpired at the High Court where deliberations were also punctuated by spasms of raised emotions.
"Section 79 of the constitution also represents a fundamental choice by the people, a choice that individuals not groups or associations, may participate in the governance of the country.
"The section is not discriminatory, it lays down a principle, the wisdom or foolishness of which is not for courts of law to enquire into," he said.
The Attorney General’s remarks ignited different reactions from the packed courtroom.
Supporters of the disgruntled organisations, who want the court to grant them a declaratory order, saying that political parties are allowed to exist under the current constitution, were obviously outraged by the Attorney General’s outburst.
There was however, no visible reaction from the full bench of judicial officers.
Dlamini’s argument was based on the premise that the contentious constitutional provision was, in actual fact, the basis of the country’s system of governance, which he alleges was chosen by the inhabitants of the polity.
He said the constitution of the country, which rests entirely on section 79 as its pillar, represented the "Swazi way of thinking".
"It is the way of life of the people, or the soul of the nation," he insisted.
Dlamini seemed convinced that the relief being sought by the political formation was only a review under the guise of ‘interpretation’.
He told the court that the opposition’s argument that the controversial provision should be given a narrow interpretation when compared with section 25 (freedom of peaceful assembly and association), was misdirected.
"That argument seems to reverse the natural order of the constitution. It is not for this court to change that but the people," he argued.