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Swazi Coalition Welcomes Prime Minister’s Announcement on the Role of Parliament.

Media statement

25 February 2010

Today the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic welcomed yesterday’s statements by the
Prime Minister and Government Press Office that finally publicly sets out for all to see the
constitutional position of parliament and the judiciary. They are effectively departments
within the Prime Minister’s Office.

At last the Prime Minister has openly admitted that the full and proper independence of both
Parliament and the Judiciary is a sham and that the control of budgets, staffing, legislative
and judicial timetables are all within the power of the Prime Minister to exercise and
manipulate. Yet he calls Swaziland a ‘fully democratic state’.

In a democratic state, the will of the people is expressed in its choice of government. In
Swaziland, the people’s will had no say in the choice of government. There were hundreds of
thousands of votes for parliamentarians whose wishes are now being overruled by the Prime
Minister who only received one vote. How can he call that a democratic state? He is not
accountable to the people or parliament.

We hope that the country recognises the complete lack of common sense that the government
shows when it feels it can say ‘the fact that Cabinet is accountable to Parliament is not in
conflict with the Prime Minister being the ministerial head of Parliament’. That statement is
simply absurd - you cannot be accountable to yourself.

Similarly, we see that the Registrar of the High Court is willing to abuse her powers to
frustrate a clear instruction from a High Court Judge. How can we have a fully independent
judiciary when the court administration openly and willingly defies its own judges? We are
grateful to the Registrar when she publicly states that she and other court administrators are
prepared to manipulate the court roll for political advantage or expediency, a fact we long
suspected but are glad it is now confirmed.

King Sobuza’s 1973 decree suspended the constitution and centralised all powers in the
Monarch. It has never been repealed and the Prime Minister has effectively let slip that it is
now alive and well in our Constitution. The window dressing of the institutions of
democracy - elections, parliament, judiciary and supposedly independent oversight bodies
should fool nobody. All power is sourced directly from the throne and is accountable to it,
not the people.

We urge the Prime Minister and his cabinet to revisit the Commonwealth’s Latimer House
Principles that Swaziland has signed up to. These guide governments on the proper roles of
parliament, judiciary and the executive in a country. The constitutional law in Swaziland
falls far short of the principles and the practice even more so.

Musa Hlophe, the Co-ordinator of the Coalition said ‘Prime Minister Dlamini today has
confirmed what we as democrats have long suspected, Swazi government has no intention of
ever freeing the country and letting the will of the people be the guiding light of government
and human rights its bedrock. Saying “Swaziland is a Democracy” is like calling a pig a bull
and waiting for it to grow horns.’
On a separate note the Coalition’s Co-ordinator also welcomed this week’s Doo Aphane
judgement that allows married women the same property rights as their husbands. Hlophe
said ‘It is the first time our courts have formally recognised the constitutional equality
between men and women. We hope that this landmark case is respected by government and
parliament and that they both take the deeper lessons that our laws must be speedily updated
to reflect the constitution and our human rights. Women and men everywhere should rejoice
at the first step towards formal equality. There will be many more to come and we hope that
the government does not see it as its duty to resist equality every step of the way.’

Musa Hlophe