The King’s preferred candidate Themba Msibi was elected unopposed as Speaker of the Swaziland House of Assembly after all other candidates withdrew from the race.
The House of Assembly was ready to elect a Speaker but it was adjourned for three days to allow Msibi time to get his nomination papers entered.
The adjournment was forced by Clerk of Parliament Ndvuna Dlamini last Thursday (17 October 2013). He said a candidate that he did not name had not had time to submit his nomination.
The adjournment caused confusion in the Swazi Parliament because the kingdom’s Constitution suggests the election of Speaker had to take place at the first sitting of Parliament following a national election.
Once news that King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, wanted Msibi in place, other candidates withdrew.
Among those withdrawing was Prince Guduza, the Speaker of the last Parliament. He was widely thought of as the first choice of Parliamentarians and until the King’s intervention, was expected to be elected. He withdrew hours before the election took place on Monday.
Former minister and dissident journalist Mfomfo Nkhambule and Mangcongco MP Patrick ‘Pha’ Motsa, the only other candidates, had withdrawn on Friday.
King Mswati III had a week earlier appointed Msibi to the House of Assembly. Msibi did not stand as a candidate in the national election held on 20 September 2013. The king appoints 10 members of the House.
The intervention of King Mswati is not being reported in local media, but the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported, ‘Complete gloom enveloped the House of Assembly when Themba Msibi was pronounced Speaker unopposed yesterday.’
In an editorial comment, the Times said, ‘Parliament’s credibility, status and integrity have been shaken by the preceding chaos over the election of the Speaker and the nation desperately needs the reassurance that we have actually chosen the best people for the job – and that they will do the best for the nation.’
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the king, ran a story recalling Msibi’s past life. Msibi had at one time complained that there were ‘too many foreigners’ in Swaziland. The newspaper also reported that Msibi was once photographed by journalists with his trousers down in a car with a woman who was not his wife. Msibi later apologised to King Mswati for embarrassment caused.
‘KING’S MAN’ STANDS FOR SPEAKER JOB
CONFUSION AS SPEAKER NOT ELECTED
DISSIDENT STANDS AS HOUSE SPEAKER