14 May 2013

Swaziland: Swazi Voter Registration in Shambles

Photo: Darron Raw
His Majesty, King Mswati III.

Cape Town — Voter registration is under way in Swaziland amid calls from opposition parties to boycott an electoral process that some have described as a mere formality.

According to AFP, the government is expecting more than half of the country's population to register in the elections expected by October 2013.

Kenneth Kunene, secretary general of the Communist Party of Swaziland, is quoted by AFP as saying: "We call on people not to register but if they can't ... we call on them to peacefully disrupt the vote."

Kunene alleges that the police force was involved in intimidating and coercing people to register.

The Times of Swaziland reports that the first day of voter registration had been characterised by technical glitches, resulting in several prospective voters being turned away.

According to the Times report, officials from the Elections and Boundaries Commission said the disruptions were "largely due to registration clerks who had either forgotten their passwords or were not able to operate the voter registration kits supplied by Face Technologies".

These errors caused the system to crash, reported the Times.

Constituencies like Luhlangotsini, Bulembu, Nginamadvolo and Luhhumaneni experienced similar technical problems.

In other regions like Lulakeni, eligible voters protested against the selection process of personnel working at the registration centres - reportedly claiming that the conditions under which the workers were chosen was unclear.

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