Swaziland’s House of Assembly failed to elect a Speaker on Thursday (17 October 2013) amid allegations that King Mswati III’s preferred choice was not to be selected.
Clerk to Parliament Ndvuna Dlamini adjourned the House before a vote could take place.
The House had met for the first time since the national election last month and first order of business was to swear in the new members of parliament. This went without a problem, but the House fell into disarray when it was asked to elect a Speaker of the House, before moving on to elect 10 members of the Senate House.
According to local media reports Ndvuna Dlamini told the House that not all the paperwork relating to the election of senators had been completed and this would delay the election, meaning that both could not be completed in one day. Clerk Dlamini said this would be unprocedural and after some confusion he adjourned the House.
Later, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), a South African based group campaigning for democratic reform in Swaziland, where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, issued a statement saying the postponement of the election of Speaker had been had been made to appease the king.
SSN said most of the new members of parliament wanted the former Speaker of Parliament, Prince Guduza to be re-elected, but the king was opposed to their choice, ‘as he has a personal vendetta against his half-brother, stemming from their own family squabbles’.
The king’s preferred candidate for the position is a former senator and minister, Themba Msibi, SSN said.
SSN said, ‘The clerk to parliament was ordered by the king's henchmen to flee the parliament building in order to ensure that the election process did not occur that afternoon [Thursday].
‘After he had fled, the parliamentarians were told that the elections had been postponed till Monday due to the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of the parliament clerk.
‘Mswati has since summoned his ten appointed members of parliament to his palace where he issued orders that they use the next four days to bribe, intimidate and blackmail the members of parliament to vote for his preferred candidate, Themba Msibi. He has also issued his famous threat that should Msibi not be elected as Speaker, he will not open parliament next year. He has done this in the past when Marwick Khumalo was elected Speaker.’
DISSIDENT STANDS AS HOUSE SPEAKER