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Friday, 13 March 2009


Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has falsely claimed that the Swazi Constitution allows him to unleash a witch-hunt against civil servants who support freedom and democracy.

Dlamini has been widely criticised for announcing this week that civil servants who engage in politics that do not support the government will be sacked from their jobs.

Now, in an attempt to justify his actions, Dlamini has claimed that he has the Swaziland Constitution on his side.

In a statement Dlamini said, banning civil servants from engaging in politics did not conflict with the constitution and he cited Section 25 (iii) (c) in his defence.

But S25 (iii) (c) actually reads as follows, ‘Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision (c) that imposes reasonable restrictions upon public officers, except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority of the law is shown not to be reasonably justifiably in a democratic society.’

It’s a bit long-winded, but what it is saying is that in some circumstances restrictions can on ‘public officers’ but NOT if the restrictions are unreasonable in a democratic society.

Not allowing civil servants to participate in politics is not ‘reasonable’ in a democratic society.

No democracy that I know of forbids ‘public officers’ to participate in politics. Let’s remember that the PM is attacking civil servants (including ordinary police officers) most of whom have pretty mundane jobs pushing paper around. There is even talk that school teachers would be restricted under Swaziland’s new rule.

If all ‘public officers’ were counted there would hardly be an employed person in Swaziland who would be allowed to speak up.

Dlamini has no love of the constitution. He was himself illegally appointed Prime Minister last year and he runs a government that was formed unconstitutionally.

His latest statement on the constitution says two things to me. Either he is deliberately misleading the Swazi people by citing S25 (iii) (c) in his defence of the political purge, in which case he is simply a lying politician; or he just doesn’t understand the constitution.

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