Thursday, October 31, 2013


None of the major office holders in King Mswati III’s new parliament in Swaziland was elected by the people.

The latest is Gelane Zwane who has become President of the Swaziland Senate.

Zwane, who last week was appointed to the Senate by the king, was elected Senate president unopposed. This will be the third term that Zwane has served as Senate President.

Ngomuyayona Gamedze was also elected unopposed as Deputy President. Gamedze too was appointed to Senate by the king. It will also be Gamedze’s third term in the position.

All senior positions in the Swaziland Parliament have now been filled following the national election in September 2013. None of them were elected by the people.

The Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the President and Deputy President of Senate were all appointed to Parliament by the king, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In addition this week King Mswati appointed six members of his own family to the Senate and earlier this month he appointed a further six to the House of Assembly.

All political parties were banned from contesting the election in September. The people were only allowed to contest 55 of the 65 seats in the House of Assembly. King Mswati appointed the other 10. The king appointed 20 of the 30-strong Senate House. The other 10 were elected by members of the House of Assembly. None were elected by the people.

Following the election on 20 September two independent international organisations that monitored the poll separately called for the Swaziland Constitution to be rewritten.

The African Union mission reported the Swaziland Constitution guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to freedom of association’, but in practice, ‘rights with regard to political assembly and association are not fully enjoyed’.  

The AU urged Swaziland to review the Constitution, especially in the areas of ‘freedoms of conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement as well as international principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral process.’

Separately, the Commonwealth Observer Mission said the constitution needed to be rewritten so that King Mswati’s powers were reduced. It also said political parties should be allowed.  

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