King Mswati III of Swaziland has fired his Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi for ‘serious misbehaviour’.
The King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, signed a legal notice on Wednesday (17 June 2015).
The King, who appoints all government ministers and top judges and who appointed Ramodibedi, cited the Swaziland Constitution in announcing his decision.
The dismissal is with immediate effect. Ramodibedi had been suspended from office pending the outcome of a hearing of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) into allegations of abuse of office.
The JSC heard evidence against Ramodibedi on 9 June 2015. Ramodibedi was not present at the hearing, citing illness. No defence against the allegations was given.
Ramodibedi faced three charges. They were:
1. Abuse of office – In the allocation of the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) matter which was heard to hear a case brought by Ramodibedi against the SRA for taxing his gratuity to the amount of E128 000 (US$12,800).
2. Abuse of office – In the hearing of the Impunzi Wholesalers (PTY) Ltd v The Swaziland Revenue Authority, in which it is alleged wealthy businessmen offered judges E2 million to help them win their case against the SRA involving the importation of goods into the kingdom.
3. Abuse of office in order to achieve an ulterior motive – In the hearing of the Estate Policy matter, where it is alleged Ramodibedi appointed three acting High Court judges to hear the case when their terms of office had expired.
Following the hearing, the JSC reported to King Mswati who then made the decision to sack his Chief Justice.
CHIEF JUSTICE CASE HEARD IN HIS ABSENCE
SWAZI CHIEF JUSTICE FIGHTS FOR HIS JOB
JURISTS: DEEP FLAWS IN JUSTICE SYSTEM