Elections are held every five years and the next is due in 2013. But, prodemocracy activists in Swaziland have been calling for a boycott. All political parties are banned and many opposition voices are silenced in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The latest call came from participants at a ‘People’s Parliament’ organised by the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations held in Manzini at the weekend.
About 2,000 people from across Swaziland agreed to campaign for an election boycott. They also want the system of government to change. At present the Swaziland Parliament has few powers. Of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, 10 are chosen by the King and 55 are elected by the people. In the senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people.
The Commonwealth Expert Team (CET) that monitored the last Swazi election in 2008 was so unhappy with the system that it advised Swaziland to look again at its constitution, to ensure that there was full consultation with the people, civic society and political organisations.
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) also denounced the poll because political parties were not allowed to take part.
The European Union refused to send a team to monitor the elections because it could not see the point since it said the elections were obviously not free.
After the poll, Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission reported allegations of widespread bribery, ‘treating’, threats of violence and cases of candidates unlawfully holding voter cards.
SWAZI UNION TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONS