Friday, July 24, 2020

Swaziland MPs fail in bid to suspend controversial organised crime law

Ambrose Dlamini, the unelected Prime Minister of Swaziland (eSwatini), has announced the House of Assembly decision to suspend a controversial law has been overturned.

He said the Swazi parliament had no right to demand an amendment to the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 2018 (POCA). 

POCA had been controversial because police and security forces in Swaziland which is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch were using it to attack illegal dagga (cannabis) growers.

In a statement on Friday (24 July 2020) Dlamini said the offices of the Prime Minister, Speaker, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Attorney General and House of Assembly Sessional Committee together decided a resolution to suspend POCA was ineffective because proper constitutional channels had not been followed.

The law led to a public outcry after reports that the state was seizing private properties owned by dagga farmers. The House of Assembly through a motion moved by Hosea MP Mduduzi Mabuza adopted a resolution to suspend the law. It wanted Justice Minister Pholile Dlamini Shakantu to prepare an amendment to the act.

POCA was designed to fight corruption and organised crime through asset recovery.

However, POCA did not only target illegal dagga farmers. In 2019 the Asset Recovery Unit in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, reported it had seized or preserved assets worth more than E5 million, since the act came into force. In addition to cash, assets seized included 18 vehicles, liquor, cigarettes and houses in urban and rural areas. 

See also

Rapes double in three months in Swaziland, violent crime on steady increase

More crime fears in Swaziland
Public sector corruption in Swaziland getting worse, Transparency International report suggests

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