Lobamba: It is expected that the House of Assembly will invoke section 98(1) (c) of the Constitution and declare the seat occupied by the Siphofaneni Member of Parliament (MP) Mduduzi “Gawuzela” Simelane as vacant.
Section 98(1)(c) of the Constitution 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.”
This follows Simelane’s absence from the House of Assembly for 20 sittings which according to the constitution would only be permitted if Simelane has obtained written permission from the Speaker. Simelane has not attended Parliament since the political unrest and widespread protest actions that rocked Eswatini in June 2021 that has seen members of the public pitted against security forces
This followed the incarceration of two MP’s, Hosea’s Mduduzi “Bacede” Mabuza and Ngwempisi’s Mthandeni Dube. The two were arrested on July 25, 2021, and were charged with contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act. Mabuza also faces an additional charge of allegedly breaching the Covid 19 rules.
Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi “Gawuzela” Simelane is also wanted for the same charges. Simelane however, has been able to evade arrest and as such has been labeled as a fugitive from the law. The three are alleged to have incited people to revolt against the government and demanded that the constitution be amended so that the Prime Minister be elected by the people and not appointed by the Monarch.
The House of Assembly is expected to deliberate over Simelane’s matter in today’s sitting. Last Tuesday Nkilongo’s MP Timothy Myeni sought clarity from the Attorney General, Sifiso Khumalo, and the Deputy Speaker, Madala Mhlanga on Simelane’s status in Parliament given that 20 sittings had now elapsed without the Siphofaneni MP reporting to the House of Assembly.
The Deputy Speaker could only respond by saying that as far as he was aware there was a warrant of arrest out for Simelane that was preventing him from attending sittings of parliament. The Attorney General was more explicit in his response when he said “the Clerk to Parliament, Benedict Xaba, must notify the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in writing within seven days after the vacancy has occurred. A by-election will then be held in order to fill the vacant seat.”
However, it has since been gathered that a Parliamentary Committee on Privileges has not been established in the August House as per the requirements of section 98(1) (c) of the Constitution. This is likely to pose a challenge in the House of Assembly as they deliberate over the future of MP Mduduzi Simelane’s participation there.
According to the Chairperson of the Standing Orders Committee, Marwick Khumalo, there was an attempt to set up a Parliamentary Committee on Privileges in the previous Parliament but it did not see the light of day.