Thursday, May 28, 2009


Only in Swaziland. Supreme Court judges have ruled that although political parties are banned in the kingdom, there is nothing to stop individual party members standing for elections.

I know. I don’t understand it either.

This judgement was described as a ‘landmark’ by the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The Swaziland Supreme Court had been asked to rule on a case brought by a group of democrats who want to see power shifted away from King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to the people.

They claimed that the Swazi Constitution that came into effect in 2006 was inconsistent in that one section said there was freedom of association, but another section said there could be no political parties.

I’m no legal expert, but I can see the two sections don’t add up. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t want to see it that way and ruled there was no conflict.

The judges said people could be members of a political party and they could stand as individuals and then once elected link up as a group. So does that mean they stood as a party or as individuals? You decide.

At least one of the judges saw the absurdity of the ruling.

Justice Thomas Masuku in a dissenting judgement said the idea that it is possible to get elected as an individual basis and then link up with others who share similar views was a bit like a boy who intends to enrol in a school which is exclusively a girls’ school.

‘To avoid being detected at admission, and in violation of the school requirements, he titivates himself, paints his hair and does all necessary preparations to be regarded and perceived as a girl, with hope that once inside, he will show his true colours and identity. ‘

So there you have it. If you want democracy in Swaziland you have to become a transvestite.

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