4 January 2013

Swaziland: Mobilisation Against Election

Photo: Nadia Neophytou
File photo: Swaziland Protests

In a New Year's statement issued by Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) Coordinator, Wandile Dludlu, the SUDF says it will mobilise the population against Swaziland's non-party elections that the organisation calls a "fallacy of royal supremacy."

"We want [the Swazi political system of] Tinkhundla to record the lowest turn-out in history as we witnessed in the recently held local elections ... to prove ... that the current Swazi system of governance is illegitimate, unpopular and a mockery to democracy," the statement said.

Swaziland's political system is widely seen as undemocratic and corrupt. In its 2012 report, American research institute Freedom House states that "Swaziland is not an electoral democracy. King Mswati III is an absolute monarch with ultimate authority over the cabinet, legislature, and judiciary."

"Tinkhundla elections can essentially be defined as 'organised certainty', since they reproduce the prevailing political status quo in Swaziland," wrote the Institute for Security Studies in a situation report on Swaziland from last year.

The SUDF statement goes on to link the lack of democracy to government and royal corruption, inequality and the poverty of the vast majority of Swaziland's citizens.

"King Mswati's government is designed to serve the interest of the rapacious and gullible appetite of the royal house and its cronies for pleasure and leisure ... 350,000 people in a population of around a million live on [aid from the] World Food Programme ... the current gloomy social, economic and political dire straits plaguing our country is a direct product of a country without democracy."

Nevertheless, the SUDF is optimistic about the prospects for change in Swaziland. "It's a brand new year full of hope and potential for freedom to finally prevail in our beloved country," the New Year's statement proclaims.

Freedom and democratisation is to be achieved through a combination of mobilisation and grass-roots campaigns. This is to be seen as a continuation of the demands of last year's People's Charter that include the implementation of a multi-party democracy, media freedom and an end to state sponsored violence against democracy advocates.

Another issue touched upon in the statement is the importance of unity within the democratic movement in achieving these goals. "The fragmentation of forces that needed to work together is one area that has denied all of us the fire power and leverage which we need the most ... In 2013 we must ... re-build the entire mass democratic movement."

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