The Swazi people went to the polls last month to select 55 members of the House of Assembly, but more than a week after the vote the kingdom’s Elections and Boundaries Commission has failed to publish the full results, or the final voter turnout. This has added further controversy in an already discredited political system. A campaign to boycott the election because political parties are banned from taking part and the parliament that is elected has no power because King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch may have been successful, but we are unable to tell because the results have been withheld.
Swazi Media Commentary reported and analysed the election and presents a digest of the happenings in September 2013 in the latest of its monthly compilations, Swaziland: Striving for Freedom: Vol 9 which is available on scribd dot com. Apart from the elections, September saw the annual Global Week of Action for Democracy in Swaziland. As usual, police and state security forces clamped down on any public discussion of the need for democracy in the kingdom. A panel of trade union experts, formed to discuss workers’ conditions in Swaziland, was forced to disband after police arrested and deported many of its participants, including the former South African cabinet minister Jay Naidoo.
While all this was happening King Mswati said he had a vision (it is assumed from ‘God’) who told him that the system of governance in Swaziland should henceforth be called a ‘monarchical democracy’. This caused great excitement among the media in Swaziland, which claimed a new dawn in democracy. It took the international news agency Reuters to get the king to admit that his new democracy was just a different name for that which already existed.
It was also announced that the 45-year-old king was to take an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant as his new bride (believed to be wife number 14, but nobody is quite sure). International media pointed out the teenager had a ‘past’ and had previously ‘dated’ two of the king’s sons and dubbed her ‘naughty Sindi’. Media in Swaziland, which see the marriage as a fairy story, ignored this inconvenience.
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Swazi Media Commentary is published online – updated most days – bringing information, comment and analysis in support of democracy in the kingdom.