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Prince Logcogco defends constitution, Prince David

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By Mfanikhona Nkhambule - SWAZI TIMES-27-Sep-2009

LOZITHA—Prince Logcogco, the chairman of the advisory committee to His Majesty King Mswati III, believes the constitution recognises the institution of the monarch and is the best tool to guide the nation to prosperity.

He chaired the Constitutional Review Commission—a com-mission appointed by the king in 1996 to gather views from the public on how the country could be governed. He also became a member of the Constitutional Drafting Committee. Prince Logcogco said the constitution had never, at any stage, reduced the powers of the king. He said he was aware of the criticism levelled against those who formed part of the CDC, saying there was nothing evil that Prince David and his team did, which warranted such scorn.

“That the constitution reduced powers of the king is something I hear everyday,” said the prince. He did not understand why there was an outcry because the constitution was a national project that went through all cultural and state processes since it was then presented to the nation at the cattle byre. To add cultural weight to the presentation of the constitution, he said the ceremony took place in the front of the ‘sacred’ part of the cattle byre (sibaya) known as inhlambelo and pointed out that such presentation in Swazi culture testified to the solemnity of the occasion.

Also, he explained that the constitution was taken to Parliament for debate and it was for this reason that it is now referred to as an Act of Parliament. “How then can someone say it’s a CDC mischief when the constitution went through all the processes recognised by our way of life? We have to contrast the sibaya occasion with the repeal of the 1968 Independence Constitution, which was done outside sibaya. That again testifies to the fact that the passing of the 2005 Swaziland Constitution Act was a national act and not a CDC mischief,” he said.

He recalled a deadlock sparked off by differences in the comprehension of the document in Parliament, a situation that resulted in both houses of parliament meeting at Lozitha Palace where an omnibus committee was set up. He explained that this committee or libandla was made up of cabinet, 15 members of each of the houses, 15 from Ludzidzini, 15 from the then Swazi National Council Standing Committee (SNCSC) and 15 from the CDC. Broadly, he said, this libandla was tasked with the responsibility of looking into the Bill so that the constitution could be a supreme law worthy of being assented to by the king. He said the Bill was later assented to after it had gone through this stage.

Before then, he said the CDC was strictly ordered to adhere to terms of references that included about six main sources of information; the principles of the 1968 Independence Constitution; Tinkhundla Review Commission Report; Other Constitutions of countries; International Documents on Human Rights; CRC Report and King’s Proclamation of 1973, which served as the cornerstone for the survival of the country.

He said all of the laws and principles mentioned above were incorporated into the current Swazi Constitution. He said they produced a document in line with the mandate given to them. He said constitutional experts were brought in to assist; one from Nigeria, Ghana, Tonga and those from commonwealth who assisted with their technical know-how. He went on to say that international pressure groups such as Amnesty International made their submissions in writing.

Over and above, the chairman said the institution of the monarch was given a nice seat in the constitution, undisturbed by anybody as the king still enjoyed the powers he had before. He said commissions, judges, cabinet ministers, prime minister and lots of influential boards were still appointed by the king. He said the king continued to appoint 10 people into the House of Assembly and 20 senators. “Who then say the powers of the king were reduced?” wondered the prince.

He said he was saddened to hear progressives say the constitution has given the king all powers. He complained that it appeared the progressives were using the constitution to their advantage because the people who were behind its crafting appeared disinterested in it. “I cannot deny the fact that the constitution retained all the king’s powers and I am not complaining about it because Swazis wanted it to be like that because we are a constitutional monarch. We are happy about that,” he said. He urged the critics of the constitution to go through it because it recognised all the traditional structures and sibaya was also constitutionalised. In short, he said Swazis wrote the

constitution. He said there was a time when the SiSwati version of the draft constitution was taken to the Tinkhundla centres for comment, and that exercise was meant to ascertain if the CDC recorded what the people submitted to it. He summed it up by saying the nation blessed the document in that way and the criticism of Prince David and his team was unfair and malicious.

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