Times of Swaziland
8 October 2008
Report partying MPs to the police, says AG
By WELCOME DLAMINI
MBABANE – Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini has called upon citizens to report to the police any legislator they find throwing a party.
Dlamini said this would help bring the Members of Parliament before the law to answer on allegations of treating.
The AG said it was only the country’s courts that would help interpret the law, with regards to treating, to determine whether the legislators broke any rule or not in as far as the 1992 Elections Order is concerned.
"It is very difficult for one to draw the line between a party and a genuine thanksgiving ceremony, so we need the courts to interpret where we are supposed to draw the line regarding this issue," the AG said.
Dlamini said in the case of Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo who threw a party on Sunday in celebrating his elections victory, anyone who witnessed the event and feels it was wrong should just go to the nearest police station to report the matter.
"We need such things to be on record so that they could be easily dealt with and if no one reports them then we have no guidance in the matter because there has to be a complainant first," the AG said.
Dlamini said people should not be afraid to come forward to register their concerns but they should also be wary that their hands are not dirty.
Dlamini said this in reference to section 63 (2) of the 1992 Elections Order which makes it an offence for voters themselves to partake in festivities hosted by legislators.
"Both the legislators and voters should not be party to any corrupt practice so the person who reports any wrongdoer should also have clean hands," the AG said.
Dlamini said such issues needed to be treated with caution because one person could be reporting someone to the police out of blatant harassment.
"People have their own grudges so we have to watch out for such people before we could take any action," the AG stated.
I broke no law by throwing party - Marwick
MBABANE – MP Marwick Khumalo has said there was no law he broke by throwing a party on Sunday.
The legislator said in all his years as a parliamentarian, he had been throwing parties of this nature as a form of thanksgiving.
"All other parliament-arians throw parties after an election to celebrate their victory and I see no problem with this as it is a way of saying thank you to the people," Khumalo said.
Khumalo said his party was a thanksgiving as he had invited priests who provided the day’s prayers to show that indeed this was a genuine thanks-giving ceremony.
The MP mentioned that his other colleagues would be throwing similar parties this coming weekend and he has been invited to attend them as he had also invited them to his.
Khumalo said the law only prohibited the throwing of parties on the actual day of the election but not after then.
"Maybe we should get a legal person who is going to give us a proper interpretation of the law so as to avoid any confusion," Khumalo said.
... guilty ones could be jailed for one year
MBABANE – Parliamentarians who throw parties could face a year in jail for throwing an illegal party for voters.
According to the country’s election laws, this is termed ‘treating’ and also carries a fine of two thousand Emalangeni upon conviction.
There have been concerns raised over Marwick Khumalo’s recent thanks giving party.
He slaughtered three cows for over 1000 people of his constituency in a thanksgiving ceremony held at Mpop- homa.
When contacted on the matter, chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Chief Gija Dlamini said there was nothing they could do regarding Khumalo’s party.
"As far as we are concerned, elections have come and gone, there is nothing that we could do," Chief Gija said.
The chief referred this newspaper to the office of the Attorney General where he said advice on the matter could be sought.
"The AG’s office is the one that could be of assistance as we also rely on them for guidance, especially on legal matters," Gija said.