Swaziland / Eswatini has banned all public events including weddings and funerals that fall on the day of the kingdom’s primary election.
It is the first time this has happened in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III who is one of the world’s last absolute monarchs.
The announcement was made on Monday (6 August 2018) by Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Chair Chief Gija Dlamini.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported him saying, ‘All Eswatini events that are slated for the eve and the 25th of August 2018, the day of the national primary elections, must be cancelled. This date was announced by His Majesty the King as primary elections day and Emaswati should respect that.’
He added that every eligible and registered person should vote at the election.
Elections in Swaziland are widely recognised by international observers as a sham. Political parties are banned from taking part and King Mswati chooses the Prime Minister and the government. No members of the Swaziland Senate are elected by the people. Only 59 House of Assembly members are elected and the King chooses a further 10.
Dlamini, who is also one of the King’s brothers, said that all events that coincided with the primary election, including weddings and funerals, were banned. The Observer reported, ‘He said events such as weddings and funerals should either be shifted to earlier dates or postponed to later dates other than the 25th.’
He said, ‘Funerals can be shifted to Sunday, unless the family is certain that by 5am of Saturday [25 August] the burial would be over for the mourners to be able to have at least an hour to spare and prepare for the elections that will start at 7 am.’
The Observer listed events affected including weddings, lobola, stovel meetings, schools meeting, soccer matches, fundraising walks, funerals, and birthday parties.
In Swaziland nominations for member of the House of Assembly (parliament), constituency executive committees (Bucopho) and constituency headmen have already taken place. At the primary election people at chiefdom level elect the member of the Bucopho for that particular chiefdom. Aspiring Members of Parliament and the constituency headman are also elected from each chiefdom. At the end of the primary elections, there should be one candidate for the position of the Member of Parliament and one for the position of the constituency headman who then contest elections at secondary level on 21 September.
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