10 October 2008
Swazi MP refuses to pledge loyalty to king's heirs
LOBAMBA, Swaziland (AFP) — Swaziland's parliament was brought to a temporary halt today (Friday 10 October 2008) when a newly-elected lawmaker refused to pledge loyalty to the king's heirs and successors during an oath-swearing in Africa's last absolute monarchy.
Ntuthuko Dlamini, a young parliamentarian from LaMgabhi Inkhundla, about 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of the capital Mbabane, left out the oath line about loyalty to King Mswati III's heirs and successors.
He replaced the line with his own words, pledging loyalty to the "Swazi nation", causing a stir.
"I, Ntuthuko Dlamini, do solemnly affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to King Mswati III and the Swazi nation, so help me God," he said.
The parliamentary clerk tried three times to get Dlamini to recite the original oath lines before Dlamini finally gave in.
"This boy is taking his rebellion too far, you do not dare do this on your first day in parliament," muttered one member who did not want to be named.
It was the opening day of the ninth parliament.
Dlamini was among 55 MPs who were sworn to the Swazi parliament following the September 19 election. Ten additional members are appointed by the king. The king's eldest brother, Guduza Dlamini, was re-elected speaker of the parliament.
Swaziland's political system is run under the controversial Tinkhundla system which allows candidates to contest elections only as independents.
Political parties have remain banned in Swaziland since 1973.
King Mswati III, who rules the country with his mother, also appoints a prime minister and other top government officials.
The landlocked southern African country is one of the most impoverished in the world, with more than a third of its one million people living under the poverty line.
In August, King Mswati III was named by Forbes magazine as one of the richest monarchs in the world.