The Swaziland government has labelled South Africa a “politically immature” state with ignorant MPs, a Sapa correspondent reported on Wednesday.
“Just because South Africa is better at soccer than Swaziland, the neighbouring country cannot dictate how Swaziland should be governed. They are off the mark. What they said lacks truth,” Swazi government spokesman Percy Simelane told the Swazi media.
He was reacting to a South African parliamentary debate about Swaziland in May. Swaziland’s local media reprinted a question and answer session between South African MPs and international relations officials.
MPs raised concerns over the state of democracy in Swaziland, given King Mswati III’s absolute authority. They questioned the banning of political parties opposed to the monarch’s rule.
“They didn’t do their homework. The Swazi constitution does not specifically ban political parties,” Simelane said.
He said South Africa’s own parliament did not contain representatives of communities on the ground.
“None of these (MPs) got to parliament through the ballot, but through political parties. The Swaziland government’s view is that South Africa’s parliament has no right to discuss Swaziland and that only South Africa’s president may have discussions with King Mswati.”
He said the Swazi government was displeased with the mentioning of King Mswati III’s name in the debate. Swazi MPs were forbidden from mentioning his name in parliamentary debates.
“Swaziland has its own leaders and they must be approached with respect. Any country that wants to advise Swaziland must follow United Nations (UN) rules,” Simelane said, without explaining which rules he was referring to.
He said only “diplomatic niceties” prevented Swaziland from telling South African voters they should recall their elected officials.
“Had we not known better, we would be asking the South African electorate to correct the mistakes they made during the last election,” Simelane said.
Attempts to get comment from South African government spokesman Mac Maharaj were unsuccessful on Wednesday.