14 August 2013

Swaziland: New Election Blunder in Swaziland

A major blunder by Swaziland's Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has meant some people had to nominate candidates in the forthcoming primary election for a second time.

The EBC erroneously combined two election districts at the nominations during the weekend of 3-4 August 2013.

When the mistake was discovered the EBC ordered the people of Njabulweni, near Lubhuku, in the Dvokodvweni Constituency, to nominate again.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported that Njabulweni and Malindza were combined for the nominations, although they should have been separate.

It reported, 'A presiding officer told voters [of Njabulweni] to elect at least five people to add to the 13 who were nominated during the nominations process at Malindza Umphakatsi.'

It said, however, the turnout for the second nomination was not good and only four candidates were nominated.

The blunder is the latest in a long line of problems besetting the election.

Some people who wanted to nominate candidates were prevented from doing so because electoral officers would not allow it, while some names of those who were nominated were then left off the EBC's official list of candidates.

And separately, some public servants were nominated against the election rules because they did not have permission letters from their employers.

Some people boycotted the election nomination completely in protest that venues selected for the nominations were unsuitable. Elsewhere equipment failures delayed the start of nominations.

The candidates were nominated at Imiphakatsi (chiefdoms) where they were chosen to compete against one another in 'primary' elections. Since the nominations were completed, there have been reports from across Swaziland of people illegally campaigning. The law states that there can be no campaigning ahead of the primary elections, which are due on 24 August.

The winners at the primaries become their chiefdom's candidate in the 'secondary' elections on 20 September, where they compete against each other at the Inkhundla (constituency) level to be elected to the House of Assembly.

The elections are widely seen inside and outside Swaziland as irrelevant. Political parties are banned from taking part and the parliament that is elected has no power as this rests with King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

The secondary elections are for 55 members of the 65-seat House of Assembly. The other 10 members are appointed by the king. None of the 30-strong Swaziland Senate is elected by the people: the king appoints 20 members and the other 10 are elected the House of Assembly.

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