11 October 2012

Swaziland: Constitutional Crisis Enters Week Two

Photo: UN Photo/Marco Castro
King Mswati III of Swaziland.

As the constitutional crisis in Swaziland enters its second week Themba Masuku the kingdom's Deputy Prime Minister has said he will ignore the constitution and only resign if 'the people' tell him to go.

Last Wednesday (3 October 2012) the Swazi House of Assembly passed a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister and his Cabinet with a majority greater than three-fifths of the House. According to the Constitution, the PM had three days to quit or be sacked by the King.

So far, Barnabas Dlamini, the Prime Minister, has stated clearly he has no intention of resigning and King Mwsati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, has made no move to sack the government.

Now, Masuku, who has been acting PM this week while Dlamini has been on an official visit to Uganda, has told the Times of Swaziland the government should only resign if the people want it.

'I'm of the view that if there is any information on the ground that the public really wants us out, we have to know the basis of it. It will have to be proven scientifically. It doesn't have to be something coined by the media and then be taken at face value to represent the aspirations of the people,' he told the newspaper.

He added, 'Gauging public feeling on this is rather complex and not readily comprehensible. At Sandleni, where I come from I haven't so far picked this negative public feeling about my work. So which public are we talking about?'

He said this even though S68 (5) and S134 (5) (b) of the Constitution state clearly that if there is a three-fifths majority in the House of Assembly in a no-confidence vote, the Government must go.

But, Masuku told reporters he would not respect this vote. 'We can't just go because there are voices in Parliament calling for our heads,' he said.

Meanwhile, the kingdom is still waiting for word from King Mswati. It was reported earlier this week that he had taken advice from Swazi traditionalists in the kingdom on what move he should make.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that they had been trying to find reasons why the vote could be declared void. In particular, they want to find mitigating circumstances why the Prime Minister should not be blamed for the actions of his government.

It is also reported informally that members of the House of Assembly are being pressured by supporters of the King to take the no-confidence vote again and decide differently this time.

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