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Where is the Constitutionally established Council of Chiefs Your Majesty?

Sunday, 17th July, 2022

It is now clear that the constitutional framework meant to establish a Council of Chiefs whose functions was to address chieftaincy disputes among others, was deliberately ignored by King Mswati so that he could strengthen his absolute power.

Section 251 of the Constitution states clearly that there shall be a Council of Chiefs which shall be composed of twelve(12) Chiefs from the four(4) regions.

“There shall be a Council of Chiefs which shall be composed of twelve Chiefs drawn from the four regions of the Kingdom appointed by the iNgwenyama on a rotational basis.

There shall be a Chairman of the Council who shall be appointed by the iNgwenyama and a secretary whose office shall be a public office.The Council of Chiefs shall be responsible for, among other things-advising the King on customary issues and any matter relating to or affecting chieftaincy including chieftaincy disputes.Performing the function in terms of section 115 and performing such other functions as may be assigned by this Constitution or any other law,” reads in part, Section 251 of the Constitution.

It is important to state that,when it favors him, King Mswati always speaks about the Constitution and that it should be respected.

The establishment of the Council of Chiefs remain fundamental to address challenges affecting the people in the communities as a result of chieftaincy disputes.

Swazis are being treated like slaves in their own country, land is grabbed with impunity, some had their properties demolished amid land disputes between Chiefs.

Now, in the absence of the Constitutionally established Council of Chiefs, victims are forced to report to the Regional Administrators(RAs) or National courts known as Ndabazabantu, these institutions have limited powers and cannot address the challenges in the communities.

In my understanding of the Constitution, the Council of Chiefs was meant to act as a traditional regulatory institution that sought to address traditional matters including advising their Majesties on issues of Customary Law.

King Mswati is in this political mess because he is not taking any advice,he uses his mind to run this country and therefore, the state of social, economic and political affairs reflects the level of his thinking capacity.

Some communities are struggling with little or no development as a result of chieftaincy disputes, it is the Council of Chiefs that is supposed to address those issues and their recommendations be registered and made an order of the courts or any constitutionally established traditional body.

But, it is important to understand that the reluctance in establishing the Council of Chiefs,remains a clear demonstration that Mswati does not respect or recognize the traditional institution of Chiefs,despite the fact that it is the pillar of the institution of the Monarchy. 

As a result, in this country, you find some Chiefs working as security officers reporting to State security Commanders and receiving ‘peanuts’ as salaries, these traditional leaders hold the highest positions in the governing structure of this country.

Mswati must be blamed for the chieftaincy disputes that delay development in the various communities, his failure to provide leadership, establish the Council of Chiefs and further pay Chiefs decent salaries as per their status in society resulted to some traditional leaders opting to scramble and commercialize Swazi Nation Land(SNL).

Under a democratic Government, it is important to address these issues of land disputes because they affect the people and have forced thousands of citizens into poverty.

On another note, the King spoke about Sibaya as a solution to the current political crisis without considering the constitutionality of the Sibaya as an institution.

Constitutionally, Sibaya is an institution, however, it was manipulated and reduced into a venue where political oppression is legitimated.

But apart from the fact that Sibaya has been manipulated to pool the wool in the eyes of the international community that eSwatini is democratic, Sibaya as an institution(not venue) was never implemented as per the provisions of the Constitution.

“The people through Sibaya constitute the highest policy and advisory council (Libandla) of the nation.The Sibaya is the Swazi National Council constituted by Bantfwabenkhosi, the tikhulu of the realm and all adult citizens gathered at the official residence of the Ndlovukazi under the chairmanship of iNgwenyama who may delegate this function to any official.Sibaya functions as the snnual general meeting  of the nation but may be convened at anytime to present the views of the nation on pressing and controversial national issues,” reads Section 232 of the Constitution.

As per the provisions of the Constitution, King Mswati or those close to him must produce one policy that came after a resolution by the people through Sibaya.

When Mswati changed the name of the country from Swaziland to eSwatini, he was expected to produce a Sibaya resolution to that effect.

The Southern African Development Community(SADC) must demand Sibaya resolution that changed the name of the country as prove that the King rules as per the will of the people.

In light of the aforementioned, it is important to state that Mswati can talk about Sibaya as a national dialogue but it won’t be difficult to dismiss his propaganda because he never respected the Constitution since its adoption.

Where is the Constitutionally established Council of Chiefs Your Majesty?
King Mswati.