27 August 2013

Swaziland: Corruption Claims At Swaziland Poll

About 1,000 people in a chiefdom in Swaziland voted at the primary election even though only 300 actually live there.

This is one of many allegations being made following the shambles at the election held on Saturday (24 August 2013).

It was reported to have happened at Ngonini in Nhlambeni. Residents there have complained to the Elections and Boundaries Commission, the group organising the poll, saying the winning candidate had brought supporters to vote for him from outside the area. Residents said as many as 1,000 people voted, although only 300 lived in the chiefdom.

About 400 people who were not known in the chiefdom were allowed to vote there, and were given first preference to vote, the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, reported.

There were similar complaints that people from outside the chiefdoms had been allowed to vote from across Swaziland, including at Vuvulane in the Mhlume constituency.

The Observer also reported unspecific allegations that some people said they were paid for their votes.

Other complaints emerging through social media and newspapers in Swaziland include ballot papers having incorrect names of candidates and voters turning up at polling stations but being denied the chance to vote.

It has been revealed that the polling station at Mhlangatane was only open for four hours on Saturday.

The Observer reported, 'Most people felt that the elections were far from being "free and fair", arguing that voting process was opened for just four hours while in other stations they were given the full 10 hours or more.'

It was previously reported that the election was called off at Bahai and Magwaneni and at Pigg's Peak polling stations were allowed to remain open beyond the official closing time.

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