Swaziland: Observer Group Says Swaziland Election Nomination Successful, Despite Some Shortcomings

King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini (file photo).

Swaziland's election nominations were marred by delays at most of the voting centres, according to the first independent report from observers to be published.

Some venues for nomination were changed at the last minute, and provision for people with disabilities was non-existent at some.

Some presiding officers lacked experience and need additional training.

Despite these shortcomings the nomination process was successful, according to the Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (CANGO) in its report.

CANGO organised 11 groups in Swaziland which deployed 110 observers in 87 nomination centres in 37 (out of the total 59) Tinkhundla constituencies across all four regions of Swaziland / Eswatini on 28 and 29 July 2018.

It reported, 'Logistic delays were common in most nomination centres due to lack of extension cables to charge laptops. In some nomination centres, lack of tables and chairs for election officials including shelters was also common delaying the commencement of the nomination process. Some centres had PA [public address] systems and some had megaphones. Some of the nomination centres finished as late as 8.00 p.m. like Nkanini Umphakatsi in Lobamba.' It said many centres did not have electricity and this should be provided as a priority.

It added the process was well organised but some nomination centres were changed at the last minute like Emhlane, Old Nkhaba Inkhundla which caused confusion.

CANGO reported most centres were accessible to people with disabilities but listed 10 of the 87 it visited were not adequate. It called for the provision of braille and interpreters for people with hearing difficulties to be made available at all voting sites.

Its report was mixed about the abilities of presiding officers. CANGO reported, 'In all areas covered, most presiding officers were knowledgeable on the nomination process to be undertaken as provided in the electoral laws of Eswatini [Swaziland]. However some presiding officers lacked patience in managing the process as observed in KaLanga. Such misunderstanding could easily have been managed by explaining the process to the communities and what was expected from eligible voters.'

It recommended the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) should 'use experienced presiding officers who have extensive knowledge of such a process to avoid untimely delays'.

The report criticised some nomination centres for opening the process with a Christian prayer, 'making eligible voters very uncomfortable like in Mangwaneni community school in Mbabane and six other nomination centres. Eligible voters were quick to react to the prayers and some even approached CANGO observers to document the prayers and highlight that not only eligible voters are of Christian domination.'

CANGO concluded the nomination process was 'transparent, peaceful, free and fair in all the nomination centres'.

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