Swaziland re-appoints controversial chief judge

Published: 25/Jun/2012
Source: Sapa-AFP

(MBABANE 25 June 2012)  The Swaziland government has renewed the contract of the country’s chief justice, who is a Lesotho national, saying there were no local judges suitable for the job, an official said on Monday.

Michael Ramodibedi’s appointment comes despite a new constitution adopted in 2005 that says only Swazi nationals are eligible for the job from July 26, 2012.

“Swazis were considered for the position of Chief Justice, but none of them merited appointment to the post,” said Lorraine Hlophe, the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission (JSE).

The constitution, adopted on July 26, 2005, says that “a person who is not a citizen of Swaziland shall not be appointed as chief justice of a superior court after seven years from the commencement of this constitution”.

Ramodibedi first arrived in Swaziland in 2006 to take up the position of acting judge on the appeal court, and was appointed acting chief justice in 2010.

During his tenure as the country’s most senior judge, Ramodibedi has issued an order that makes it impossible to sue King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Last year, Swazi lawyers staged a protest demanding he be sacked, after he fired judge Thomas Masuku, one of the few judges critical of Mswati.

His contract is indefinite.

Themes: Discrimination, Ethnic/Racial/Religious
Regions: Southern Africa, Lesotho, South Africa
Year: 2012