1 August 2018

Swaziland: Media Report Chaos and Confusion During Nominations for Swaziland Election

Photo: The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa
King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini (file photo).

There were many local media reports of chaos and confusion as Swaziland / Eswatini voters turned out to nominate candidates in the forthcoming House of Assembly election.

Nominations took place at chiefdoms across the kingdom on 28 and 29 July 2018. During the time-consuming process the name of the nominee was raised by a show of hands and the nominee given an opportunity to indicate whether he or she accepted the nomination.

There were delays in different parts of the Shiselweni region. Some people decided not to wait and left before the process was finished.

The Swazi Observer reported (30 July 2018) said there were many complaints. It said, 'Some of these complaints included the decision by the overseers of the process to close the nomination when voters still wanted to raise names of the people they were interested to nominate.

'Several complaints came from places like Mbangweni where some residents said they were denied opportunities of raising names of the people they felt had the credentials to represent them.'

It added, 'In some areas, other residents claimed that the officials were seemingly biased and also others looking like they were having interests, especially on whose side they were in and who they wanted to see eventually winning.

'At Mbangweni Umphakatsi, residents said they found themselves denied the right of nominating people of their choice but were informed that time was running out.'

Elsewhere, there was confusion at the Ngwane Park High School polling station as many voters and aspiring candidates were turned back on Saturday and told to return next day. The Sunday Observer reported (29 July 2018) people started arriving at the station as early as 8 a.m. Some people complained they would not be able to go to nominations on the Sunday because they would be at church.

Dozens of voters from Mbadlane under Dvokodvweni Constituency were 'stunned' to learn that they had been registered to nominate at Entandweni chiefdom as opposed to their home chiefdom, Malindza, the Sunday Observer reported (29 July 2018). The EBC blamed a computer error and rectified the mistake.

The Times Sunday (29 July 2018) reported a 'verbal showdown' between human rights activist and newspaper columnist Musa Hlophe and EBC officials at KaLanga. He accused them of bias and complained he had not been called to make a nomination when he raised his hand. He also said that women and people with disabilities were being ignored and not allowed to nominate candidates.

Armed police were on hand at KaGwegwe where Swaziland Senate President Gelane Zwane is acting chief. There had been sporadic fights in the area in the past during disputes about Zwane's position. The Sunday Observer (29 July 2018) reported there was a protest during registration on Saturday, 'The angry youth were said to have assembled at the KaGodloza Royal Kraal before marching to Gelane's KaGwegwe Royal Kraal. The youth, apart from singing political songs and chanting slogans denouncing the acting chief, were also carrying placards with messages relating to the decades long chieftaincy dispute in the area.'

The Sunday Observer also reported, 'There were minor clashes at Kwaluseni where a resident was allegedly stabbed after a confrontation.'

Ahead of the nominations it was reported nearly 500 names were removed from the voters' roll at Ngudzeni when it was discovered they were people who did not live in the area. The Observer on Saturday reported (21 July 2018) that non-residents had been brought in by aspiring candidates from as far afield as Luhlokohla in Hhelehhele and kaPhunga near Lavundlamanti. It added usually there were about 900 voters but this number had been inflated by 498 strangers.

In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in the national election and people are required to nominate individuals to represent them in the House of Assembly. King Mswati III rules the kingdom as one of the world's last absolute monarchs. He chooses the Prime Minister and government. No members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people.

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