Eswatini Daily News

By Reporter

What was meant to be the second reading of the controversial Cannabis Bill in Parliament turned dramatic leading to the Speaker slamming MPs for being incompetent and not deserving of being legislators.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) invited the wrath of the Speaker, Petros Mavimbela, when it became apparent that some of them, who are members of the portfolio committee meant to work on the bill had deliberately shunned meetings to avoid its finalisation.

The meetings were aimed at engaging stakeholders to hear their views and submissions after which a report would have been compiled and tabled in Parliament something which did not happen.

READ MORE: Eswatini Parliament at crossroads over passing of Cannabis Bill

The MPs are desperate and concerned that if the bill is passed in its current state, they will lose voters in their constituencies. Trouble started when the Chairperson of the portfolio committee, Maseyisini MP Mduduzi Dlamini questioned why the second reading of the bill was included in the paper as he had previously stated that the members had not been able to meet and form a quorum. His submission irked the Speaker who requested that the House be respected.

“When we were elected, we took an oath and vowed that we will work for the people who voted for us. If Maseysini MP has the guts to tell the House that they could not continue with most meetings as they did not form a quorum what does he mean? Is he saying they are not committed?” the Speaker first asked.

Some of the MPs, mostly members of the committee did not take kindly to this as they felt the Speaker was being harsh and making them look bad to the electorate by insinuating that they were incompetent and did not come to work.

One of them, Sithobelweni MP Bhekitje Dlamini decried that the electorate in his constituency will not like the news that he was incompetent, especially in the upcoming days of the general elections.

Other MPs made it known that they were against the second reading of the bill because they did not see a report tabled by the portfolio committee something they said was unprocedural. Others said the bill needed time and that there have been many challenges.

The Chairperson went to the extent of alleging that the Speaker facing pressure from ‘somewhere’ to have the bill passed. Again, the Speaker was not deterred as he said, “We have to do the work of the country”.
With most of the MPs becoming emotional, the Speaker then used his powers to issue a ruling on the matter.

READ MORE: Threat to Eswatini’s Cannabis Illegal Market Grows

He ruled that in the next sitting, the Chairperson should table a report for the bill so that the work can be completed. In the previous sitting, the second reading of the bill could not take off as the Chairperson and his deputy did not attend and the Speaker decried that they had not even bothered to communicate and or apologise.

The bill is meant to authorise the farming of dagga for medicinal purposes. The MPs’ gripe is that the legislation will come with stiffer fines for those who will be found to be involved in dagga farming without licences.

The MPs worry that if the bill is passed as it is, the electorate will not be happy and therefore not voted them back into Parliament.

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EDN October 6, 2023


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