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MYENI FAILS TO STOP NOMINATIONS PROCESS

MBABANE – Outgoing MP Timothy Myeni’s attempt to stop the nominations process at Mabantaneni under Lubulini Inkhundla was yesterday unsuccessful.

Myeni had approached the High Court on urgent basis, where he was seeking an order, to stop the nominations under the umphakatsi. He had also entreated the court to grant him leave to appeal the decision by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) of removing his name from the voters roll for Mabantaneni Umphakatsi. His application to stop the nominations was declined by Judge Bongani Dlamini, who, however, granted him his prayer for leave to appeal the decision. Myeni might not participate, either through voting or contesting, in the national exercise under the inkhundla he had registered. He had registered under the Mabantaneni Umphakatsi under Lubulini Inkhundla but the EBC declared that he will participate at Nkhanini/Lusabeni Royal Kraal under Nkilongo Inkhundla.

In a letter addressed to Myeni, the EBC cited Section 18 of the Voters Registration act No.8 of 2013 and said the objection was on the basis that he was not a resident of the area at which he registered. In his application, Myeni brought it to the attention of the court that his name had since been removed from registration as a voter under the Lubulini Inkhundla, where he had originally registered to vote.  He submitted that, this was done on the basis of an alleged irregular decision by EBC with barely two days remaining to the nomination exercise.
It was further his contention that, in making the decision to disqualify him from his registered constituent, the commission did not afford him the right to be heard and he was of the view that same was made arbitrarily, biased and one sided.  

He highlighted that he was desirous to exercise his constitutional rights to appeal the decision of the commission and he was eligible to do so within the Act. According to the applicant (Myeni), the nomination exercise was premature as it was set to take place even before the appeal process was explored. He averred that he was a liSwati carrying on business at Mabantaneni area under Lubulini Inkhundla in the Lubombo Region and was a former MP for both Lubulini Inkhundla (2003-2013) and Nkilongo Inkhundla (2018-2023).  The applicant pointed out that, since birth he had been a bona fide resident of Lubulini Inkhundla. He highlighted that, in 2003-08 the people of Lubulini saw it fit to elect him as an MP and he served them so diligently that in 2008-13 he was re-elected as an MP. The applicant told the court that, unfortunately in 2013, he lost the race. In 2018, according to Myeni, the inkhundla boundaries were predetermined resulting in his umphakatsi being transferred to Nkilongo inkhundla and he was nominated and elected under Nkilongo Inkhundla. He informed the court that he had been an MP for Nkilongo in the outgoing parliamentary term until the dissolution of Parliament on July 11, 2023.

political reforms

“The recent parliamentary term has been a rough one for me, more particularly because my views as a politician on the calls for political reforms in the country were diametrically opposed to the views of those who argue for the preservation of the current system of governance,” submitted Myeni. He argued that, for his stance as a politician, others viewed him as being an ally to former MPs Bacede Mabuza, Mthandeni Dube and Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane. Myeni said he was fortunate not to be arrested as the other MPs, but he was not spared the brunt of those who are against reformists. “Having weathered all the political storms during the recent term, including being slapped with a E1.8 million tax bill, which I have since resolved, I then got a shock of my life on July 21, 2023, when I was served with a letter signed by the chairperson of the EBC informing me of a decision taken that I should be removed from the voters roll for the Mabantaneni Umphakatsi,” submitted Myeni.

The applicant narrated to the court that in the middle of the recent parliamentary term, he was approached by members of the Lubulini constituency who expressed their request that he should stand for elections under Lubulini Constituency since he served them diligently when he was their MP. He alleged that after so much reluctance and resistance, being happy with the people of Nkilongo, whom he was representing, he eventually gave a thought to the request by the people of Lubulini. Myeni mentioned that, sometime around April/May 2023, the EBC issued dates for elections. He highlighted that, according to the announcement, registration for the upcoming elections was to commence on the May 10, to June 14, 2023.  He stated that, within the registration timelines advertised by the commission for registration, he had to make the decision whether to register under Nkilongo or Lubulini. 

Myeni went on to submit that, in line with universally accepted electoral standards, the EBC started its voter education exercise.  He said he attended the sessions by the commission with a keen interest in knowing whether he would qualify for registration under Lubulini constituency since he did not have a home there but only had a business. According to the applicant, during the exercise, the commission stated the requirements for eligibility to be registered in a particular inkhundla. Myeni submitted that EBC stated that the requirements for eligibility to be as follows: be an adult citizen or ordinary resident, 18 years or above, registrant must have a home in that chiefdom, must have resided in that chiefdom for a continuous period of at least three months, he or she has a business in that chiefdom and an ordinary resident associated with that inkhundla for at least five years.

“Regarding the criterion of ‘business’ the 1st respondent (EBC) made the example of “Buy  Cash Hardware” and stated that, even though Mabuza (the owner of Buy Cash) did not have a home at Lubulini, he would be eligible to be registered in that constituency since he owned a business there,” alleged Myeni.  He alleged that, in trying to be sure of the eligibility criteria, he then visited the website of the EBC to see if there were any brochures educating the public about the electoral process and he found one. “Having assured myself that I qualified for registration under Lubulini constituency, in particular under Mabantaneni umphakatsi, I accordingly applied for registration and was duly registered. After the registration period had closed, we were advised to check if we were appearing on the voters roll by dialing *411# on our mobile phones. I found that I was appearing on the roll under Mabantaneni umphakatsi,” averred the applicant.

letter for him

He related to the court that on July 21, 2023, at around 10am, he received a call from officers of the EBC informing him that there was a letter for him, which he had to collect. Myeni said he immediately drove to the EBC’s offices at Nkhanini, where he had to wait for over two hours until he was given the letter after noon. “The contents of the letter were to the effect that a certain person, not mentioned in the letter, had lodged an objection to the retention of my name on the roll for Mabantaneni umphakatsi. The EBC stated that it had conducted a fact-finding mission and found that I did not maintain a home within Mabantaneni but my home was at Nkilongo,” said the applicant. He submitted that, on the basis of the above, the EBC issued the decision that his name should be removed from the voters roll of Mabantaneni and be transferred to Nkilongo. “I humbly submit further that I have a constitutionally guaranteed right to vote and/or be voted for, hence the removal of my name from the voters roll violates my right to vote and/or be voted for. The first respondent has no right to determine for me as to which constituency should I vote and/or be voted for in,” he argued. 

It was further his averment that the commission, had allegedly even imposed for him that he should participate under Nkilongo because he had a home there. “I have homes in other tinkhundla, for example at Madonsa in Manzini, Croydon under Mkhiweni, Rest Camp under Kukhanyeni, Mhlaleni under Kwaluseni, etc. However, that is neither here nor there, I have been invited by the people of Lubulini whom, I served between 2003 and 2013, to participate under the Lubulini constituency,” contended Myeni. The applicant argued that, the conduct of EBC of removing him from the voters roll violated his rights aforesaid. He argued that, he had been requested by the people of Lubulini to participate under the constituency in the 2023 elections since he served them diligently between, 2003 and 2013. “It was at their instance that I registered under Lubulini and I will have no objection to stand for elections should the people wish to nominate me. For me it is also my wish to vote for certain individuals whom I wish to nominate under Lubulini for bucopho and indvuna yenkhundla. Hence, it is not just about me being nominated at Lubulini, but also about me voting for my desired candidate in that inkhundla,” he argued.  Myeni was represented by Human Rights lawyer Thabiso Mavuso while appearing for EBC was its Legal Advisor, Principal Crown Counsel Mbuso Dlamini