Sunday, July 28, 2013


The number of people who have registered to vote in Swaziland’s upcoming election has been ‘grossly distorted’, the kingdom’s Communist Party has said. 

In a statement, the Communist party of Swaziland (CPS) said King Mswati III and his regime were pushing ahead with the election which starts in August and continues in September ‘in the face of widespread voter apathy and crippling corruption’.

Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) announced 411,084 people had registered to vote out of the 600,000 people in the kingdom eligible to vote.

Kenneth Kunene, general secretary of the CPS, said, ‘Our cadres have been closely monitoring the situation. There is no evidence that anything like that number of people have registered. Quite the opposite. We have seen much apathy, resistance and passive opposition to Mswati's elections.’

The CPS said it had been running ‘a clandestine campaign’ to urge a boycott of the elections. It had circulated 10,000 anti-election leaflets in the kingdom, and is organizing ‘below-radar meetings and door-to-door campaigning’ to inform about the anti-democratic nature of the elections.

In Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last remaining absolute monarch, political parties are banned from contesting the election. Most opposition groups in Swaziland are banned as ‘terrorists’.

The election is for 55 members of the 65-seat House of Assembly. The king appoints the other 10 members. No members of the 30-strong Swazi Senate are elected by the people: 20 senators are appointed by the king and the other 10 are selected by members of the House of Assembly.

The CPS said that what registration that had taken place was largely enforced by local chiefs, who are key officials in the feudal Tinkhundla system that is the administrative framework of Swaziland.

Kunene said that the election system is corrupt from start to finish, and that the pre-election process had ‘been fraught with scandal and fraud’.

The CPS said it had evidence that chiefs had threatened to confiscate land and deny privileges to potential voters unless they turned up to vote.

Kunene said, ‘The police have also been threatening people to make them register. Very few people have been voluntarily going along to register. Everyone knows that these elections are not about equality, rights or representation.’

Kunene added, ‘The regime is planning to hold what it calls “voter education”. This will be a chaotic mess, as the police are planning to enforce participation, as they tried with the registration process. All this is simply reinforcing the people's opposition to the elections. They are realizing that the polls have nothing to do with improving their conditions.’

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