Saturday, October 20, 2018

Swaziland King appoints eight of his family to Senate amid reports of widespread vote buying elsewhere

King Mswati III the absolute monarch of Swaziland / Eswatini has appointed eight members of his Royal Family to the kingdom’s Senate. This is in addition to the six he previously appointed to the House of Assembly.

In an unexplained move, the King appointed Prince Hlangabeza to both the House and the Senate.

The announcement came on Thursday (18 October 2018) and follows national elections that are widely discredited outside of Swaziland as undemocratic. No member of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people; the King appoints 20 and members of the House of Assembly elect 10.

The King’s appointments underline the lack of democracy in Swaziland. Elections for the House of Assembly were held on 21 September 2018. Political parties are banned from taking part and people are only allowed to select 59 members; the King appoints a further 10.

Ten members of the Senate were elected by members of the House of Assembly on Tuesday amid reports of widespread bribery. The Times of Swaziland reported on Thursday that police were investigating after votes were said to have been sold for between E20,000 and E40,000. In Swaziland seven in ten of the estimated 1.1 million population have incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 (about E30) a day.

The Times said the bribery allegations came to light after one unsuccessful Senate candidate whom it did not name demanded her money back from members of the House of Assembly.

The Observer on Sunday newspaper, which is in effect owned by King Mswati, said in an editorial comment (14 October 2018), ‘It is now an open secret that the 10 seats available for Senate, to be chosen by the MPs, are now sold to the highest bidder.’

Vusi Kunene, a columnist for the Times of Swaziland, criticised Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission for not taking action. He wrote, ‘That it is no longer a secret that there is a lot of vote buying and the institution, which is supposed to guard against such, is silent, is worrying.’

The buying of Senate seats in Swaziland is common. In the run-up to the election Ncumbi Maziya, a Commissioner at the EBC, told a workshop for election candidates that members of parliament charged E60,000 for their vote.

The Swazi Observer newspaper reported in August 2018, ‘He said parliamentarians are the most corrupt people. He said he has since gathered that parliamentarians are swindling money from people who want to make it into Senate. 

It added, ‘Maziya said he learnt that people are made to fork out money amounting to E60,000 if they want to get a vote to be elected into Senate. “If you have no money you won’t make it into Senate,” Maziya stated.’

In a separate development, the Times of Swaziland reported on Friday two unnamed candidates for the Senate election had secretly been disqualified because they had failed police vetting. It reported, ‘their past was found wanting’. It gave no further details.

It added, ‘Vetting is the process of performing a background check on someone before offering them employment, conferring an award, or doing fact checking prior to making any decision.’

It said, ‘To save face, some of the MPs [Members of Parliament] continued to elect the candidates who had not passed the vetting stage, although it was clear from the counting of the votes that they did not stand a chance to win.’

It added, ‘Chief Police Information and Communications Officer (PICO)  Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, said as the police they could not divulge any information on the vetting of individuals.

‘“The process that is undertaken is highly confidential and therefore, for security reasons, one cannot state what happens,” said Vilakati.’

See also

Swaziland King appoints six of his own family to House of Assembly and more expected in Senate House

Swaziland Election Officer Reveals MPs Sell Their Votes When Electing Kingdom’s Senators

Swaziland (Eswatini) Election 2018: Links to Information and Analysis From Swazi Media Commentary

Organised Certainty, Why elections in Swaziland are not democratic

No comments: