13 September 2013

Swaziland: All Not Well Ahead of Elections

Photo: Darron Raw
His Majesty, King Mswati III.

King Mswati III is trying to convince the international community that all is well ahead of next week's national election in Swaziland.

He said the election organiser, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), had solved all the problems from the primary elections last month.

He made his comments when he received letters of credence from the Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan to Swaziland Thomas Chen and Italian Ambassador to Swaziland Roberto Vellano at the Lozitha Palace.

King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, is keen for the international community to believe that the elections are democratic.

He told the ambassadors that the elections were 'where the country elects a new government.'

The Times of Swaziland,the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported, 'He said the participation of people during the elections was very vital because it means they are able to shape the country's future choosing a new government.'

But this is not true. The Swazi people are only allowed to select individuals to sit in the House of Assembly. Political parties are banned from taking part in the elections and there is no debate on policy.

The people only select 55 members of the House of Assembly. The other 10 in the 65-strong house are chosen by the king. None of the 30 members of the Senate House are elected by the people. The King choses 20, and the other 10 are elected by members of the House of assembly.

After the election, the king will choose a prime minister and government ministers. The Swazi parliament has no powers and the king can overrule any decision it makes if he wishes.

King Mswati also told the ambassadors that the primary elections, where the candidates for next week's election were chosen went 'extremely well'.

However, the evidence contradicts this. There were many complaints made to the EBC about vote-buying and other irregularities. A number of complaints are to be heard by the Swaziland High Court ahead of the poll on 20 September 2013.

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