Swaziland: Swazi Voters Snub ‘King’s Democracy’

| February 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Fewer than 270,000 people voted at the Swaziland national election in 2013: only 44 percent of those entitled to do so.

The percentage turnout was lower than in the previous election in 2008.

The low turnout casts doubts on claims by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, that his subjects support what he calls his kingdom’s ‘unique democracy’.

Political parties are not allowed to take part in elections and most of the political groupings in Swaziland that advocate for democracy have been banned under the King’s Suppression of Terrorism Act.

The Swazi people are only allowed to select 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, the other 10 are appointed by the King. None of the 30 members of the Swaziland Senate are elected by the people: the King appoints 20 members and the other 10 are appointed by the House of Assembly.

Neither the House of Assembly nor the Senate are independent of King, who can, and does, overrule decisions he does not like.

The people do not elect the government; the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers are handpicked by the King.

Immediately before the national election in September 2013, King Mswati announced that the political system in Swaziland that had until then been called tinkhundla would in future be known as ‘Monarchical Democracy.’ He said this would be a partnership between himself and the people.

The supporters of King Mswati saw the election as a way for the Swazi people to endorse the King’s version of democracy. At the same time prodemocracy groups urged people to boycott the election.

The full results of the election have not been made public by King Mswati. This is not unusual in Swaziland where ordinary people are starved of information about the Royal Family and how the government is run.

Information about the turnout in September’s election slipped out in a report from the African Development Bank. In its Southern Africa Quarterly Review and Analysis for the fourth quarter of 2013, the Bank devotes a mere seven lines to the election but manages to reveal, ‘Swaziland held its parliamentary elections in September 2013 and the voter turnout was 65 percent.’

Culled from :Here

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Category: Africa News