12 August 2011
Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations calls for Chief Justice To Go.
The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations today (12 August 2011) notes with extreme concern the appalling behaviour of Swaziland’s Chief Justice [Michael Ramodibedi] in his handling of the spurious and vindictive disciplinary charges against Judge Thomas Masuku.
The actions of the Chief Justice in the recent Discounted Land for the Prime Minister and his willingness to try and subvert the sovereignty of parliament were concern enough but now to abuse his position and undermine the law, the rule of law and the international reputation of Swaziland’s legal system is surely reason enough for him to recognise that his position is not credible.
To bar family, fellow judges and international jurists from observing Swazi legal processes in action shows that it was not law that was being dispensed at Judge Masuku’s disciplinary hearing but a vendetta. Justice must not only be done but, be seen to be done. What is he so ashamed of that he cannot allow the public to see and understand what is really going on? Is it the hopeless nature of the trumped up charges, the complete lack of credible evidence or the nature of the judicial process where it seems the verdict was decided long before the evidence was heard?
To act as complainant, prosecutor and judge in the same action against Judge Masuku is to go against the basic principles of Administrative Law and Natural Justice that every Law student learns in first year. The Chief Justice knows this and it is for him and his conscience to face up to the reasons why.
To have pushed Swazi Lawyers and the Swaziland Law Society to take the unprecedented action of not attending court by way of protest at his abuses of position and process shows that he has lost the confidence of the legal fraternity here.
Musa Hlophe Co-ordinator of the Coalition said ‘We were suspicious of this man when he likened himself to an apartheid farm boss when he called himself “Makhulu Baas”. He has now gone further and seems to think that as part of the unaccountable, unelected elite that run the Swazi system of government Tinkhundla system he is beyond control, criticism or sanction.
‘We have seen the Supreme Court contradict itself on many occasions to come up with the right result for the government but this is many steps further than that. We call for him to resign or to be removed. For a system of justice to be independent it needs to be led by one who will robustly stand up against political pressure, not be the henchman of the faceless cabals (labadzala) that are destroying our country through corruption, incompetence and nepotism. By his statements and his actions he has shown that he is not fit to lead Swaziland’s legal system.
‘He is out of control. He must go.’
SWAZI CJ IS PROSECUTOR AND JUDGE