GOVERNMENT PRESS STATEMENT
NO 5 of 2015
BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER
DR B.SIBUSISO DLAMINI
WEDNESDAY 6 MAY 2015
His Majesty’s Government and the Nation at large have encountered unprecedented and unacceptable legal challenges within the Judiciary, which is one of the three arms of Government.
There has been extensive public commentary on the legal issues. Some of the opinions expressed have been constructive, while others destructive and serving only to cloud the real issues. His Majesty’s Government and the Swazi Nation are resolute in applying correctly and fairly the legal principles as found in our Constitution, statutes, Swazi Customary Law and any relevant and available case law under the Commonwealth of Nations. The purpose of this is to vigorously, judicially and without delay, restore the rule of law, accessibility to the law and confidence in our judicial systems.
Government wishes to point out that there are basically two legal routes to the resolution of these legal challenges. The first route is the application of criminal law, in this case the Prevention of Corruption Act 2006 where, under section 33, it provides for the arrest of judicial officers, such as judges and others, who are suspected to have been involved in corrupt activities. This can be referred to as the option of “arrest, and suspend/remove from office.”
The second is the disciplinary option found under section 158 of the Constitution which can be referred to as the “suspend/remove from office, and arrest” option.
Both options are validated from the many cases decided under the Commonwealth of Nations.As to which one is more appropriate depends on the circumstances. If applied correctly, either option can achieve the desired goal.
In the present case, Government opted for the “arrest, and suspend/remove from office” option which proved entirely satisfactory in respect of all the judicial officers in question, with the exception of the Chief Justice who frustrated the process by locking himself in his official residence and refused to obey the official requests to comply with a court sanctioned judicial process.
With regard to the Chief Justice, the Government shall now switch to the other route which is the “suspend/remove from office, and arrest” option. The end result will be the same for all the judicial officers as the Constitution states that all are equal before the law.
In his wisdom, after careful consideration, His Majesty the King has decided to approach the matter holistically and comprehensively, in that all the affected judges, namely Justices M.M.Ramodibedi, J.Annandale and M.S.Simelane, are hereby placed under suspension with immediate effect.
In accordance with Section 158 of the constitution, His Majesty the King has acted on the advice of the ad hoc committee, consisting of the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, the President of the Law Society of Swaziland, and the Minister for Justice (and Constitutional Affairs), and has referred the matter to the Judicial Services Commission for investigation.
It has also pleased His Majesty the King to appoint Justice M.C.B. Maphalala as the Acting Chief Justice until further notice. Justice Maphalala is expected to ensure that the provisions of the Constitution for the composition of the Supreme Court are adhered to, and for ensuring that the court administration and the resumption of the sitting of the Supreme Court are quickly put in place. It follows that Justice Maphalala will also henceforth act as the chairman of the Judicial Service Commission.
During the course of the investigation, the suspended Chief Justice is at liberty to leave his residence for the purpose of attending the hearings conducted by the Judicial Services Commission. The warrant of arrest shall be held in abeyance until the investigation of the Judicial Services Commission is completed and the recommendation regarding the further course of action is confirmed.
It should be emphasized that for any other travel, including travel outside Swaziland, the suspended Chief Justice is required to obtain the prior approval of the warrant holder, namely the National Commissioner of Police.
Dr B.Sibusiso Dlamini 6 May 2015