10 April 2013

Swaziland: 'Owners of Country' Ban Parties

The chairman of Swaziland's Elections and Boundaries Commission, Chief Gija Dlamini has spoken out strongly against political parties contesting this year's national election.

Chief Gina is reported by local media saying 'the owners of the country' had clearly stated that parties could not contest the election.

He was reacting to news that former Secretary General of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions Jan Sithole, who is now a leading figure in Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) had come to an understanding with Sive Siyinqaba, a conservative political party, not to contest the same parliamentary seat.

In Swaziland, since King Sobhuza II's Royal Proclamation of 12 April 1973, political parties have been excluded from standing at elections. Instead, people are only permitted to stand as individuals and they do this through local area councils known as tinkhundla.

Chief Gija told the Times of Swaziland both Sive Siyinqaba and SWADEPA were not allowed to strategize for the election.

'The owners of the country have clearly stated that people will stand for elections in their individual capacities and not through political parties,' the newspaper reported him saying.

Chief Gija dismissed the relevance of Sive Siyinqaba. 'I can just call them clubs formed by people who are like minded. I do not foresee them having any influence, whatsoever, in the outcome of the elections,' he said.

A number of organisations inside and outside of Swaziland have called for a boycott of the election because parties are banned. The parliament that will be elected will have no real powers, as the kingdom is ruled by King Mswati III who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

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