7 March 2013

Swaziland: Unions Declare for Election Boycott

More trade unions in Swaziland have said they will boycott this year's undemocratic national election in the kingdom.

The National Association of Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) reaffirmed its stance of not participating during its congress on Wednesday (6 March 2013).

Outgoing Secretary General, Vincent Dlamini, said NAPSAWU was a member of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), which had already declared it would boycott. He said NAPSAWU would be bound by TUCOSWA's resolution.

Meanwhile, representatives from other unions, who were invited to address the congress, also supported the boycott, the Times of Swaziland reported.

President of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union, Bheki Mamba, said his union would also not take part in the elections, unless political parties, which are banned from the election, were allowed to take part.

Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) member, Mpumi Dlamini, said students would not participate in the elections because they were not pleased with policies taken by the government.

Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) Coordinator, Wandile Dludlu, also said the front was against the elections.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network and the Communist Party of Swaziland have both already declared they will encourage people to boycott the election, which is due to be held sometime in 2013, at a date to be set by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

Elections in Swaziland are meaningless.

There are two chambers of parliament, the House of Assembly and the Senate. Of the 65 members of the House, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected by the people.

In the Senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people.

King Mswati is in complete control of his kingdom. In October 2012, the House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister and cabinet.

In such circumstances the constitution requires the monarch to sack the government (he has no discretion in the matter), but King Mswati ignored this and put pressure on the House to re-run the vote, this time ensuring that it did not have the required majority to pass. Members of the House did as they were told and the government continued in office.

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