November 29 2013 at 11:05am By Titus Gwebu
Swaziland’s parliamentarians have been banned from getting divorces - until 2018, when the newly elected MPs complete their terms of office.
MPs and senators were told by the speakers of the House and Senate that the edict had been created to spare King Mswati embarrassment. The king is a strict traditionalist and has 14 wives. He is preparing to marry his 15th bride. He spoke out against divorce in August, saying it was “un-Swazi”.
“Such things (as marital discord) are embarrassing to come from parliamentarians. (Put aside thoughts of divorce) for the king at least for the next five years, then sort your personal issues after the end of your term,” Gelane Zwane, Speaker of the House of Senate, told members this week.
Parliamentarians were given the no-divorce order during a workshop in which they were told what they were expected to do in a parliament that held no actual governing power. Mswati makes all laws, which are presented to parliament by his handpicked cabinet. Parliament is not permitted to act independently.
When the last parliament delivered a no-confidence vote against the cabinet last year, Mswati was constitutionally obliged to dissolve cabinet but chose instead to ignore the vote.
Zwane ordered male parliamentarians off the female staff of parliament. She said women workers in parliament had affairs with MPs and become arrogant and insubordinate to their work supervisors, creating discipline problems.
“You are going to find very beautiful ladies in parliament offices. Don’t you dare get intimate with them, no matter how tempting.
“Once they get intimate with ‘honourables’ they feel important and it becomes very difficult to work with them,” she told the men.
Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini, a relative of Mswati, whom he appointed to his fourth term in office, told MPs that they were in parliament to serve the king. He made no mention of the constituencies who elected the MPs. “We are here working on the instructions of the king,” he said.
Dlamini told MPs who held pro-democracy views and had called for an end to the ban on organised political activity in Swaziland, to suppress such beliefs while in office.