11 November 2013

Swaziland: King's Family Get Top Political Jobs

King Mswati III of Swaziland has appointed another 16 members of his Royal Family to top political jobs; effectively carving up public life in the kingdom in is favour.

This is in addition to the nine princes and princesses he has already appointed to the House of Assembly and the Senate.

King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, has also appointed 16 members of the Dlamini clan, which he heads.

There are nine princess and princesses and a further seven from the family Dlamini in the 24-strong Liqoqo (the Swaziland National Council), the most powerful of the committees that nominally advises the King.

There are four princes and princesses and four Dlaminis in the Ludzidzimi Council, which advises the King's mother.

The Border Restoration Committee, which exists to try to get South Africa to give some of its territory to King Mswati, has three princes and princesses and five Dlaminis among its 14 members.

Previously, King Mswati reappointed Barnabas Dlamini as Prime Minister and appointed Paul Dlamini as Deputy Prime Minister for the first time.

The appointments follow the national elections that took place in September 2013. All political parties were banned from taking part and the Swazi people were only allowed to elect 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly.

The King appointed the remaining ten. The King appointed 20 of the 30 members of the Senate House, with the other 10 elected by members of the House of Assembly. None were elected by the people.

Shortly before the election, King Mswati announced he had received a vision during a thunderstorm which told him that henceforth the political system in his kingdom should be known as a 'monarchical democracy'. He said this would be 'a system formed by merging the will of the people with the monarch'.

He went on to say in this system, people cast votes on a ballot box to decide leaders from community level. These leaders then work with the monarch in governing the country.

However, the new appointments are overwhelmingly of people who did not stand for election.

The power wielded by King Mswati was criticised by two independent international groups which observed the Swazi election. Both the African Union and the Commonwealth Observer Mission suggested the kingdom's constitution should be reviewed and political parties be allowed to contest elections.

The Commonwealth Observer Mission added that, 'The presence of the monarch in the structure of everyday political life inevitably associates the institution of the monarchy with politics, a situation that runs counter to the development that the re-establishment of the Parliament and the devolution of executive authority into the hands of elected officials.'

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