Monday, October 14, 2013


There is intense speculation in the newspapers in Swaziland that Barnabas Dlamini is to be reappointed Prime Minister by King Mswati III.

In Swaziland, the people are not allowed to choose who heads the government: that is the prerogative of King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Once the PM is in place, the king will then choose the rest of the government.

Political parties were not allowed to compete at the national election held on 20 September 2013. The Swazi people could only select candidates as individuals. In Swaziland the people only select 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly: King Mwsati appoints the other 10.

Last week he appointed Barnabas Dlamini to the House of Assembly, fuelling speculation in the newspapers that he would also be reappointed as Prime Minister in the coming days.

There are only two newspaper groups in Swaziland and both have accepted the appointment as inevitable, but with some reservations.

Alec Lushaba, editor of the Weekend Observer, a paper in effect owned by the king, wrote, ‘So the question is whether the country needs Dlamini as prime minister or not. The answer to that question is that we probably do not have a choice, even if we didn’t but he still meets all the qualities the appointing authority [King Mswati] expects from someone holding such an office.’

He added, ‘His [Dlamini] heavy handedness approach to dealing with dissent only helps to portray the country and the King as being averse to political change or dialogue, yet not finding a lasting political solution to the groups he has proscribed remains a scar to the country’s international standing.’

Phephisa Khoza, editor of the independent Swazi News, speculating on likely candidates for PM, wrote, ‘Truth be told as painful as it may be is that only one of them stands head and shoulders above all. And that is the former [outgoing] Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini.’

Khoza added, ‘I have always said the PM is like a master chess player, which makes him very dangerous. His moves are always calculated and I must say there is no better candidate I see replacing him anytime soon. This is to say YES I agree with those who say he is the right man for the job. I know teachers and the majority of civil servants will disagree with me.’

History suggests that King Mswati will reappoint Dlamini as PM. In October 2012 the king refused to accept a vote of no confidence passed by the House of Assembly on Dlamini and the government, even though he was obliged by the constitution to do so.

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