Thursday, November 6, 2008


Introducing a multi-party democracy into Swaziland may be the best way to save the kingdom from disaster.

This is according to the Commonwealth Expert Team that observed Swaziland’s elections in September 2008.

In its report just published the CET highlighted the concern expressed within Swaziland about how the new Swazi constitution was not protecting human rights.

The CET reports that the Government of Swaziland is party to a number of international agreements on human rights ‘It is widely accepted internationally that democracy includes the right of individuals to associate with and support the political party of their choice,’ the CET states.

‘Yet in practice this right currently does not exist.’

It goes on, ‘Swaziland has stark economic and social problems. According to statistics two thirds of Swazis live in chronic poverty and a majority of the population depend on food aid. Cultural norms undermine women’s rights. The country has the highest rate of HIV prevalence in the world, 10 percent of the population are orphans and the life expectancy is now 31 years for the newly born. We were also informed by a number of sources that corruption is on the increase.

‘Swaziland has deeply established cultural traditions which place considerable emphasis on the rights of the individual. However, the country may be fast approaching a crossroads, as in the light of the socio-economic problems, its citizens may decide to seek ways to improve their lives through the introduction of a multi-party system which gives them powers to collectively question and change the status quo.’

The CET has got it right. The problems within Swaziland stem from its undemocratic nature. A tiny elite control the kingdom and the vast majority have no say in how their lives are controlled.

When anyone (such as the CET) objectively studies the situation in Swaziland the problems are clear and so are the solutions.

To read the full CET report, click here.

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