8 October 2012

Swaziland: King 'To Decide On Govt's Future'

Photo: Taurai Maduna/IRIN
King Mswati III: According to the Constitution, if the prime minister does not resign the king must sack either the government or the entire Parliament.

King Mswati III is expected to decide today (8 October 2012) whether to sack his cabinet, following a vote of no-confidence in the House of Assembly.

Although the Swazi Constitution states clearly that the King must dismiss his government, he has so far failed to do so.

The House made its decision on Wednesday (3 October 2012) and Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini had three days to resign, but he refused to do so.

Despite the clarity of the Constitution, King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, has so far refused to act. The King appointed Dlamini, who was not elected to parliament, in 2008 in contravention of the Constitution and has supported him ever since.

The King also handpicked the rest of the government so any of its failings will be seen by some as also a failure of his own judgement.

The King's advisory council Liqoqo was due to meet today to discuss the matter. The SwaziObserver, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported that Liqoqo would examine with a 'fine comb' a ruling made by the International Arbitration Court (IAC) over the closing of some services by parastatal Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) which was the cause of the vote of no-confidence.

Parliamentarians are angry at the way the government handled the matter, but Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini clams that his government was forced to act in the way it did because not to do so would be to defy the IAC and be contempt of the rule of law.

Dlamini has been adamant that his government has done no wrong and claims the no-confidence vote is null and void.

However, news emerged today that despite its name, the IAC is not a court, but an arbitration service, and that the Swazi Government was not obliged to abide by its ruling.

The Liqoqo Chairman Prince Logcogco Mangaliso told the Observer that Liqoqo and another advisory body, the Ludzidzini Committee, would meet to decide what advice to give the King.

The Indvuna of Ludzidzini TV Mtsefwa, who is commonly known as the 'traditional prime minister' and is considered to be close to King Mswati and to have more influence on him than the constitutional Prime Minister told the Observer he hoped the meeting with the King would take place today.

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