Monday 2019-10-21

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CJ’S STATEMENT ALARMING – LAWYERS

By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2019-08-14

The Law Society of Eswatini has been alarmed by the Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala’s statement that the Judicial Service Commission is under siege from a very powerful and dangerous political elite.

The Law Society has viewed the CJ’s statement as one that has the potential of creating an environment of suspicions in the country. Law Society of  Eswatini Secretary General Thulani Maseko said this is not healthy for the rule of law in the country and it needs to be investigated.

On Monday, the Chief Justice Maphalala delivered a shocking speech when conducting the swearing-in ceremony for new members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) at the High Court. Maphalala not only said there are powerful and dangerous people who have held the JSC under siege, but he went on to state that the conduct of this political elite is treasonable and it should come to an end. The CJ did not, however, come out in the open to state who these elites are.

Maseko said they acknowledge that the Chief Justice has been complaining about the JSC being under siege.

Concern

However, he thinks that the statement made by the CJ on Monday is a cause for concern and discomfort because as Law Society, they would like to believe that the JSC is supposed to be independent.

“We cannot have a situation whereby the JSC is in the pocket of someone,” Maseko said. He added that it is serious enough that the JSC is under siege from the political elite, allegedly.

The secretary general said they would have been happier if the CJ had indicated who these elites who have captured the JSC are. Maseko said people have been left with assumptions and some are already making conclusions.

“What he said creates an environment of suspicion in the country,” Maseko pointed out. He added that this is not healthy for the rule of law and the Constitution.

According to him, the Law Society thinks the CJ has information that when investigated can lead to arrests and people being charged with treason.

Seriousness

The secretary general said this coming from the Chief Justice is something that needs to be taken with seriousness. Maseko questioned why, if the matter amounts to treason, isn’t being investigated fully so that the appropriate legal steps can be taken.

Maseko said this is very serious, adding that another discomfort was that the CJ in his statement said that as a Chief Justice and as a Judiciary they were going to do everything they can to defend the country from people who were spearheading regime change.

He stated that if this is coming from the head of the Judiciary, alleging that people are spearing regime change without giving information that concludes who these people are, ‘it puts one in a difficult position’.

He said this creates mistrust in society.  Maseko said what is known is that among the three arms of government the Judiciary and Parliament there might be from time to time issues which arise and create tension between the two.

He said this was obvious given the nature of their operations.

Maseko said where there is a perception that one of the arms of government is undermining another, there must be a conversation among those arms to resolve those tension. He said to shout and scream at wach other does not help the situation.

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