Kenworthy News Media, August 29, 2013
Swazi ‘selections’ begin
Swaziland’s elections have started, elections that many
people in the small absolute monarchy jokingly refer to as “selections”, not
elections, writes Kenworthy News Media.
The reason for this is obvious, if you bother to scratch
a little below the surface of Swaziland’s so-called traditional democracy, also
known as Tinkundla.
Firstly, absolute monarch King Mswati III is basically
above the law as he can veto any law he doesn’t like. As the Electoral
Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, who monitored the last elections
in 2008, stated “executive authority is vested in the hands of a hereditary
Secondly, the parliament is more or less chosen by the
king, who appoints the entire government, appoints several of the MP’s
personally and has to approve the rest.
And finally, no parties are allowed to partake in the
elections – only individuals can run for office. Elections have therefore
“increasingly become arenas for competition over patronage and not policy,” as
the African policy research institute, Institute for Security Studies
, put it.
During the first round of elections, held Saturday [24 August 2013],
candidates were by law not even allowed to campaign or discuss issues with
their constituents. This has to wait until the second round, to be held on
September 20. “This means that Swazi people are being asked to elect people at
the primary without knowing what they stand for and what they will do if
eventually elected to parliament,” as long-time Swaziland commentator, and
former Associate Professor at the University of Swaziland, Richard Rooney, put
The fact that Swaziland is thus not by any definition of
the word a democracy is also confirmed by all who bother to look into
Swaziland’s elections. As the Pan African Parliament’s observer mission at the
last election reported
, the elections do “not meet regional and
international standards and principles for democratic elections”.
This is why the largest party, the People’s United Democratic
Movement (PUDEMO), has been campaigning for an election boycott by the Swazi
population for months. “Our goal is to organise for a popular rejection of the
undemocratic Tinkundla system, and its false elections, and to build an
unstoppable campaign or a democratic alternative system,” PUDEMO said in a
According to PUDEMO’s “People’s Charter”, adopted last
year, the organisation demands a “people’s government”, a “people’s centred
economy”, “rural development and land reform”, and equal rights and
participation for women and minorities.
SWAZI ELECTION ‘WILL BE A FRAUD’