Swaziland’s main opposition political party PUDEMO has refuted media reports that it is ready to contest the national elections in 2018.
PUDEMO (the People’s United Democratic Movement) is the best-known opposition group in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch. Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and PUDEMO, along with other groups that advocate for democracy in the kingdom, are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom reported on Monday (20 February 2017) that PUDEMO and its youth wing SWAYOCO, ‘have been instructed by their donors to look into changing their strategy for bringing democracy into the country’.
The Times added, ‘After years of denouncing the country’s elections and branding them “not free or fair”, the proscribed entities are considering taking part in the 2018 national elections where Members of Parliament representing the 55 constituencies in the country are chosen by the people.’
PUDEMO responded in a stinging statement and rejected, ‘with the contempt they deserve’ the media reports. It said it had no donors or funders who were forcing it to participate in the elections.
It added, ‘PUDEMO is not afraid of elections, and remains committed to taking part in Swaziland National Elections, that will be conducted under conditions that guarantee a democratic, free, fair, meaningful and transparent process, not the current royal sham.’
The Swazi people have no say in who their leaders are. They 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.
The King choses the Prime Minister and cabinet members. Only a man with the surname Dlamini can, by tradition, be appointed as Prime Minister. The King is a Dlamini.
He also choses senior civil servants and top judges.
PUDEMO added, ‘The current Tinkhundla elections has no effect in the political life of the country, as power remains concentrated in royal hands, and all meaningful decisions are made through royal command. PUDEMO has no intention, now or in the future to associate its glorious name and record of struggle with such a royal grand scam to defraud our people of their right to democratically and freely elect a government of their own.’
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