Voter registration in Swaziland is in chaos – even the electoral board running the election does not know how many people are eligible to vote in the kingdom.
The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) announced it believed there were 600,000 people in Swaziland who would be eligible to vote.
EBC Chairman Chief Gija Dlamini confirmed the figure to theVoice of America radio. He said, ‘From the statisticians, they gave us a population of 600,000 Swazis who are eligible to vote and we are targeting that number.’
But, Dlamini’s estimate might be well wide of the true picture.
The law says that people aged 18 and over can vote, with a small number of exceptions, including those who are not of sound mind.
The latest estimates suggest the total population of Swaziland is 1.38 million people.
The total population is broken down by age group. Unfortunately, the exact number of people aged 18 and above is not measured. But, the statistics show that there are 557,080 people aged 25 and above in Swaziland. If the number for those aged 15 to 24 is included the total number aged 15 and above is 868,858.
Even a conservative estimate would place the number of people aged 18 and above comfortably above 600,000.
The ECB has almost certainly underestimated the number of people eligible to vote in the 2013 national election.
But, it was even more wrong at the last election in 2008. Then, it was estimated that the number of people eligible to vote in Swaziland was only 400,000. When the ECB signed up 350,778 people to vote it claimed a huge success, saying 88 percent of those eligible to register actually did so.
However, if the true figure of the numbers eligible to vote in 2008 was broadly similar to the figure today (600,000), the percentage that registered falls to 58 percent – which, rather than being a huge success, is a pretty poor result.
In 2008, only 189,559 people actually voted in the secondary election (the vote that finally determines who goes to the House of Assembly). This was only 31 percent of the 600,000 people who were probably eligible to vote.
So, the 2008 election was not a success, and on the basis of these figures it might be described as a failure.
Registration has until 23 June 2013 to run and media in Swaziland have been reporting a series of problems, ranging from computer malfunctions, poorly trained staff not knowing how to operate equipment and local chieftaincy disputes denying people the opportunity to register.
The Swazi News estimated at the current rate of registration 269,970 people would have signed up by the time the registration is over.
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