6 August 2013

Swaziland: Woman in Pants Banned From Election

A Swazi woman was banned from being nominated to stand as a member of parliament because she was wearing trousers at the nomination centre.

And, a second woman at a different chiefdom was denied the chance to nominate a candidate for the same reason.

Nomination centres opened cross the kingdom last weekend (3 - 4 August 2013) as Swaziland prepared for the first round of the national election later this month.

Mana Mavimbela, aged 18, was disqualified from putting her name forward for parliament at Lubulini because she wore a pair of trousers at the Royal Kraal where nominations took place.

The presiding officer Lindiwe Sukati refused to allow her to stand because Mavimbela was wearing a pair of black jean trousers and a golf T- shirt.

Human Rights lawyer Mandla Mkhwanazi told the Times of Swaziland newspaper the presiding officer had infringed upon Mavimbela's rights under the Swaziland Constitution which did not discriminate against an individual on the basis of how they dressed.

Meanwhile, Fakazile Luhlanga of Ndvwabangeni in the Mhlangatane constituency was also not allowed permission to nominate a candidate as she was wearing cargo pants.

Local media reported Luhlanga saying she was told that she was dressed like a man and would be a bad influence to the community members as they would want to emulate her.

Some chiefs across Swaziland imposed the ban on women wearing trousers, shorts or mini-skirts at nomination centres.

Chief Petros Dvuba of Mpolonjeni in Mbabane, the kingdom's capital, said people who would be going to the nominations should dress properly and show respect as it was King Mswati III's exercise. He told local media, 'Even those who have relaxed hair should cover their heads when going to that place.'

The nominations were for the 'primary election' in Swaziland. This is where each chiefdom nominates candidates to represent it in the main, or 'secondary election' that will be held in September.

The election in Swaziland is mired in controversy. All political parties are banned from taking part and the House of Assembly that is elected has no power as this is invested in King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

The election is only to select 55 members of the 65-seat House of Assembly. The other 10 members are appointed by the king. No members of the Senate House are elected by the people. Of its 30 members, 20 are chosen by the king and 10 are elected by members of the House of Assembly.

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