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Govt wants political parties to register ?

MBABANE – MDUDUZI MAGAGULA 11/07/2010

Government is drafting a law that will, if  ultimately enacted, facilitate the registration of political parties.

The office of the Attorney General (AG) has drafted what is known as the Registration of Political and Social Parties Bill.

This law is now ready to be taken through processes that would lead to its adoption as law.

Sabelo Matsebula, Deputy Attorney General acknowledged the existence of the Bill, saying his office had finished compiling it.

He is now ready to take it to the next level.

He said the Bill was now at a stage where it would be handed over to Ndumiso Mamba, Minister of Justice.

However, the official government position on this matter according to Macanjana Motsa, Government Spokesperson is that political parties were still banned in the country.

“Political parties remain proscribed as per the Gazette of 2008 that blacklists political entities in the country,” she said.

She said the parties were proscribed through the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008.

However, not all political groups were proscribed then.

Proscribed

Only the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) and the Swaziland People’s Liberation Army (Umbane) were proscribed.

Meanwhile, Matsebula explained that accountants or lawyers had regulations that regulate their operations.

“The Bill has been structured for the purpose of controlling operations of parties in the country,” he said.

He said the Bill had been crafted such that it fulfilled some sections of the constitution.

As such, the issues it addresses are constitutional in nature.

He noted that the constitution did not ban political parties. It was against that background that there was a need for a law that would control their operations, he said.

“Under the current circumstances, political parties cannot operate nor they could be registered because there is no legislation that provides for this,” he said.

The African United Democratic Party (AUDP), which was not listed among the proscribed entities, recently took government to court, praying that it be allowed to register.

However, during the trial it transpired that government did not have a specific law allowing it to register political parties.

The AUDP had appealed to be registered through the legislation that is being used in registering associations or cooperatives. This was challenged by government on the grounds that there was no law providing for such.

The AUDP matter is still pending in court.

Sibusiso Dlamini of the AUDP says the Electoral Order of 1971 allowed for the existence of political parties.

Dlamini said this law was enough to be used in recognising political parties while government worked on the Bill.

Matsebula acknowledged the existence of a law that provides for political formations to participate in elections.

However, he said this particular law was not sufficient to register political formations.

“The Electoral Order does not provide for the registration of political parties but it only deals specifically with political parties’ participation in elections.”

He said the law assumed that the parties were already registered.

He said once adopted into a law, the Bill would provide for the registration and operation of political parties in the country.

Parties welcome move

MBABANE – The African United Democratic Party (AUDP) is urging government to bring the Registration of Political and Social Parties Bill to Parliament for debate without any further delay.

The party says the dragging of feet by government compromises the principles of constitutionalism and is a political mechanism of the government to suppress political activity.

Macanjana Motsa, Government spokesperson, insists that political parties remain banned in the country.

The party revealed its frustrations at government’s slow pace in implementing multiparty democracy in the country.

According to AUDP’s Sibusiso Dlamini, they are concerned that ever since the present government came into office in 2008 there are no meaningful political changes taking place intended to bring constitutional multiparty democracy, pluralism and good governance.

The AUDP urged Members of Parliament (MPs) to use their powers to force government by a motion to bring the Bill to Parliament.

Dlamini then thanked government for coming up with the Bill, saying it may be a solution to the political problems that affect the country’s political landscape.

He said the call for making a law to register political parties was also made at the People’s Parliament in 2008 when the party submitted a request for recognition of these entities.

“We hereby urge government not to make cosmetic changes in the Bill but ensure that it enables the Elections and Boundaries Commission to call for registrations of symbols of political parties.”

Siphasha Dlamini, Secretary General of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) says government should unban political parties.

Dlamini said government should unban all political parties and level the ground first before coming up with legislations that would allow their operations.

She said government should also free political prisoners who she said were jailed for their political beliefs.

“If this is not done, it would be difficult for the formations to operate,” she said.

She however lauded government for the move and said it was a step in the right direction.

“It is a good effort but the way it is being implemented would bring a lot of confusion to all parties,” she said.

She said if government was true to this move, all political parties should be un-proscribed and they should also be engaged in a process that would usher the country into a transition period.

…NNLC is not celebrating yet

MBABANE – Dr Alvit Dlamini of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) is calling for a transformation of the constitution to allow political parties to govern and control the economy.

Dlamini said registering political parties was a good step moving forward towards change but such a move would not be enough if the constitution was not amended.

He said the constitution should be looked into with the view of amending it to enable a party that wins elections with a majority to form government.

History

He said this move would bring a new era in the country’s political history.

“Registering parties would also enable parties to freely conduct civic education to the population in all the constituencies and state our case,” he said.

“We are unable at the moment to do that because such is suppressed by the government.”

Dlamini said Section 29 and the section in the constitution that forbade political parties to govern must also be removed.

“Any meaningful registration should be accompanied by complete unbanning of political parties”

There must be limit of powers of government and the present constitution needs to be transformed to put things right and into perspective.

“We stand for multiparty democracy,” he said.

http://www.times.co.sz/news/17100.html