25 July 2008
No parties during elections says AG
Stories by Sabelo Mamba
ATTORNEY General Majahenkhaba Dlamini says there is no provision in the country’s constitution, which allows political parties to participate in the elections.
Dlamini told a High Court full bench that government was being accused of threatening to violate the trade unions/political parties’ rights guaranteed under Section 25 of the constitution.
“The said section only talks about peaceful assembly and association,” he said.
Dlamini said members of political parties such as PUDEMO and NNLC can only participate in the elections individually and not as political groupings.
“The applicants’ argument is not based on the violation of Section 25 of the constitution,” he submitted.
“They don’t state that at some point the respondent (government) stopped the applicants from associating peacefully. The applicants in their papers want to be registered and recognised, but under which provision of the constitution it is stated that they should be recognised as political parties?”
The AG said political parties could exist, but “when it comes to public functions they have to come as individuals.”
He submitted that there was no provision in the constitution entitling members of the political parties to join the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
Dlamini said the political situation in South Africa was different because SA was a party state. He said Section 79 of the Constitution (Tinkhundla government system) was a way of life of the people of Swaziland.
“It lays down the system of government which should be the foundation,” he said.
The AG was making submissions before a full bench comprising Justices Stanley Maphalala, Jacobus Annandale and Mbutfo Mamba.
The trade unions/parties brought an application for an order allowing them to participate as a group in the forthcoming elections.
They are also challenging the legality of the EBC and its members.
The applicants are Jan Sithole (in his capacity as a Trustee of the National Constitutional Assembly-Trust), Mario Masuku, People's United Democratic Movement, Dominic Tembe, Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, Swaziland Federation of Labour and the Swaziland National Association of Teachers.
The respondents are government, Prime Minister Themba Dlamini, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Prince David, Attorney General, Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Team, House of Assembly Speaker, Senate President, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, EBC and the Judicial Service Commission.
The AG is being assisted by Mndeni Vilakati.
The case was adjourned until Tuesday.