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Friday, 15 November, 2002, 16:49 GMT
Swazi prosecutor sticks to his guns
Swazi reed dance (photo: Chris Hughes)
The king's brides are chosen at the annual reed dance
Swaziland's Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has written to the government, saying that he refuses to step down, unless he is paid in full until the end of his contract in 2005.

This is the latest twist in the saga stemming from the court case brought by the mother of a teenage girl selected to become the 10th wife of King Mswati III.


Little did the young student... imagine that her betrothal to the king would create such a storm

Tom Holloway BBC, Mbabane
This case has gripped the public imagination in Swaziland, pitting traditionalists against those who want change in Africa's last absolute monarchy.

DPP Lincoln Ngarua was told earlier this week to resign unless he dropped sedition charges against the attorney general.

The charges against attorney general Phesheya Dlamini stem from his ultimatum that three judges drop a court case against royal aides, or lose their jobs.

Political reform

The aides to King Mswati were sued by the mother of an 18-year-old girl who, she said, they had abducted to become his 10th wife.

This is the first time that a prospective royal mother-in-law has objected to a marriage to the king.

Royal bride case
September: Zehna Mahlangu abducted
15 October: Her mother sues royal aides
I November: Court defies orders to drop the case
2 November: Zehna Mahlangu appears in public
5 November: Case shelved
9 November: Attorney general charged with sedition
12 November: DPP told to drop charges
The case was eventually postponed indefinitely after the girl, Zehna Mahlangu, spoke to her mother and said she did not mind becoming a queen.

Earlier this week, a magistrate tried several times to serve a court summons on the attorney general, after he failed to answer the charges in court.

Mr Ngarua's letter, delivered through his lawyers, said he refused to resign and if sacked, would insist on being paid his salary, allowances and tax-free gratuity until his contract expired in 2005, as well as the cost of relocating to his native Kenya.

It said the justice minister's ultimatum offended his professional ethics and his personal integrity.

The BBC's Tom Holloway in Mbabane says that most Swazis believe that the king's advisors are to blame for this affair and their actions are helping opponents of the monarchy with their case of reforming Swaziland's political system.

"Little did the young student, 18-year-old Zehna Mahlangu, imagine that her betrothal to the king would create such a storm and possibly trigger a constitutional crisis," he says.

Sex ban

In the original landmark case, Lindiwe Dlamini was seeking the return of her daughter who, she alleged, was abducted to become King Mswati's 10th wife.

Zehna Mahlangu was chosen by the king at the annual reed festival, when girls dance bare-breasted in front of the king.

King Mswati (photo: Chris Hughes)
The king is under pressure to modernise

King Mswati is above the law but has come under pressure in recent years to introduce democratic reforms and abandon polygamy.

According to official biographers, King Mswati's father, Sobhuza, had scores of wives during his 61-year reign, which ended when he died in 1982.

A year ago, King Mswati fined himself a cow after marrying a 17-year-old girl in defiance of his ban on underage sex, introduced to fight the spread of HIV/Aids.

See also:

01 Nov 02 | Africa
17 Oct 02 | Africa
03 Jun 02 | Africa
12 Nov 01 | Africa
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