MBABANE: Ngomyayona Gamedze, the former Senate Deputy President has come out to clarify that members of the House of Parliament have no powers to suspend provisions of the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA) with a mere resolution.
Speaking to this Swaziland News in an exclusive interview on Thursday evening, the seasoned politician said three institutions being the House of Senate, the Monarchy and the House of Assembly are involved in the legislative process hence MPs cannot resolve to suspend a law without the involvement of Senators and the King.
This is the law that resulted to public outcry after reports emerged suggesting that the State was seizing private properties owned by dagga farmers, the House of Assembly through a motion moved by Hosea MP Mduduzi Mabuza subsequently adopted a resolution to suspend the law, they gave Justice Minister Pholile Dlamini Shakantu an ultimatum to prepare a Bill for its amendment.
But Ngomyayona Gamedze, an experienced and highly regarded politician said Parliament consists of two Houses being Senate and the House of Assembly adding that resolutions by MPs should not be interpreted as a ‘Parliament Resolution’ without the involvement of Senators.
“Even if both Houses resolved to suspend the law, that cannot happen without a legal instrument like a gazette, Judges don’t work with resolutions. As a citizen, I am also not happy with the enforcement of this law, but a proper procedure must be followed to amend it, this cannot be done with a resolution from one House” he said.
The former Deputy Presiding Officer said suspending a law creates a ‘vacuum’ that might result into a ‘lawless’ society and warned of serious consequences if the resolution of the House of Assembly was to be implemented.
“You cannot suspend a law because by so doing, you are creating a vacuum and a lawless society, however, Parliament being the House of Assembly and Senate can amend a law, the King must be part of that process. Once you suspend the law, then what do you expect Judges to do, ignore the law merely on a resolution?. People must know that the law will remain in full force until Parliament follow a proper procedure to amend it, I am talking through experience, the fact that I am not happy with the law does not mean the procedure has to be violated, this cannot be done by single House” he said.
Procedurally, the Ex-Senate Deputy President said both Houses being Senate and Assembly cannot facilitate the process of amending the law, but a final decision should be an outcome of a joint sitting. He consistently maintained that any Parliament decision should involve all the institutions being the Senate, Assembly and the King.
“Any House can facilitate a Bill or amendment of the law but the standard practice for now is that the House of Assembly being the majority starts the process before Senators. Once Senate scrutinize the Bill, it may send it back to the House of Assembly for final consideration before the final involvement of the King who will also be given time to understand it. In the event the King agrees, he will sign but if he expressed some concerns, he will send it back to Parliament and thereafter, they would be a joint sitting. The POCA law was passed by Parliament so it cannot be stopped by a mere resolution by one House” said the seasoned politician.
Gamedze maintained that whether the House of Assembly like it or not they have no exclusive powers to suspend a law that was passed by Parliament.
“You can’t create a vacuum, this resolution is creating a vacuum, sekutabate umtsetfo. Judges don’t interpret Parliament resolutions so you cannot suspend a law and replace it with a resolution” he said.
On another note, the former Senate Deputy President expressed concerns with the enforcement of the law saying qualified individuals like accountants should be involved in the lifestyle audits not mere police officers.
“When you talk about a lifestyle audit, this requires professionals who understand the elements how an individual wealth is accumulated, what is currently happening is a recipe for a catastrophe, where a mere police officer can stop you and ask where you got the money to buy expensive clothes, police know nothing about lifestyle auditing” said the former Presiding Officer.
Ex-Senate Deputy President Ngomyayona Gamedze