With the election registration in Swaziland only days old there is a report of corruption and another of nepotism. Voting equipment is not available across the kingdom.
The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (15 May 2018) an aspiring member of the parliament who it did not name had been accused of bribing people E50 if they registered at his chiefdom. He reportedly ferried people in a hired car from Kwaluseni to register at Ngwane Park. Police are investigating.
The first day of registration on Sunday was marred by confusion. People at many registration centres across the kingdom were turned away as no registration kits were available.
The Times of Swaziland, reported on Monday several registration centres visited by reporters were found with only the registration clerks, assistants, and police officers. It reported the registration kit includes a laptop, scanner, fixed camera, biometric scanner and a printer.
The Times reported Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Communications Officer Mbonisi Bhembe said they had technological challenges, including software issues and slow Internet connections.
The problems came despite previous EBC assurances it was ready for the election. It said it had trained about 600 people to administer the election, mostly during the registration period.
EBC chairman Chief Gija Dlamini told media in April 2018 the trained people were unemployed students from tertiary institutions and pupils who had just finished high school. He said the people had been recommended by chiefs.
On Thursday the Swazi Observer reported residents at Mbangweni complained of nepotism when four people selected to assist in the election were from the same family. It reported Inkhosatana Gelane, the acting KoNtshingila chief, saying they were ‘loyal and respectful residents’. The Shiselweni Regional Administrator Themba Masuku is investigating.
The registration process at the last election in 2013 had similar computer problems and there was reported corruption during registration in 2013. The EBC said some people were offered bribes of E100 (US$10 at the then exchange rate) or E200 to register twice.
Political parties are banned from taking part in the election and King Mswati III, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, picks the Prime Minister and Government. At past elections people only got to select 55 of 65 members of the House of Assembly. The King chose the other 10. At this election there will be an additional four seats for people to vote for. It has not been announced how many members the King will choose but the Swaziland Constitution allows him to pick up to ten.
As in previous years, no members of the Swazi Senate will be elected by the people; the King will choose 20 and the other 10 will be chosen by members of the House of Assembly.
King Mswati has yet to set the date for the election.
REGISTRATION OPENS FOR SWAZI ELECTION