Lobamba-A prolonged absence from parliamentary sittings has cost Siphofaneni Member of Parliament Mduduzi “Gawuzela” Simelane his seat in the House of Assembly. This transpired during the house’s sitting yesterday.
The decision to remove Simelane has set a precedent in that no parliamentarian in the history of Eswatini’s legislature has ever been withdrawn in such a manner. The Siphofaneni MP’s removal is a result of his breach of Section 98(1)(c) of the Constitution which states that “ the seat of a senator or of a member of the House shall become vacant where the holder is absent from 20 sittings of the chamber during any meeting of that chamber without the permission in writing of the presiding officer and is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges.”
The matter of Simelane’s continued participation in parliament arose last week after it became clear the 20 sittings without he’s participation had been reached. On Monday the Speaker of Parliament Petros Mavimbela cited Section 98 of the Constitution when he announced that MP Simelane’s seat had become vacant following his absence for more than 20 sittings.
Mavimbela’s announcement triggered a heated debate from Simelane’s colleagues who wanted to know whether the appropriate attempt had been made by Mavimbela in his capacity as the speaker to ascertain the reason behind Simelane’s absence. The speaker could only respond by saying “I would be grateful if anyone among you could assist me in locating him as I have no idea of where he can be.”
Parliamentarians also raised the fact that the Constitution indicated that the holder of the parliamentary seat was expected to write a letter to the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges to explain his absence. However, at this moment the House of Assembly was without such a committee.
Speaker Mavimbela retorted that “even though the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges does not exist it does not mean that the work of the House should stop.
Nhlambeni MP Manzi Zwane questioned “how is it that the Minister of Communication and Technology (ICT), Princess Sikhanyiso was absent for more than a year but no harsh decision was taken against her. The Speaker should ensure that he does not burn the country with the decision that he takes.”
Although several MP’s attempted to dissuade Speaker Mavimbela from going ahead with the decision to remove Simelane from the legislature, He was adamant that he had already made the ruling.
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