Monday, December 2, 2013


More than two months after the national election in Swaziland took place the final results have not been published.

On several occasions the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), which ran the election, has promised to release the full results, but they have not been forthcoming.

The EBC announced the names of the winners at each of the 55 constituencies in the House of Assembly promptly after voting took place on 20 September 2013, but only gave the number of votes cast for 45 of them. No figures were given for the losing candidates and the total number of voters taking part in the election has never been revealed. 

Elections in Swaziland are generally considered by observers outside the kingdom to be undemocratic. Political parties are banned from taking part and only 55 members in the 65-seat House of Assembly are elected by the people. None of the kingdom’s 30 senators are elected by the people. 

The parliament has no real powers and King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In the run up to the vote prodemocracy groups urged a boycott of the election and there has been speculation within the kingdom that this was effective.

It is important for King Mswati that there is seen to be a high voter turnout. Only weeks before the election, he announced that Swaziland’s tinkhundla system of democracy would in future be known as a ‘monarchical democracy’. He said this would be a partnership between himself and the people.

The turnout at the election might be seen as a referendum on how much his subjects support him.

At the previous election in 2008 only 47.4 percent of the estimated 400,000 Swazi people eligible to vote did so. The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) in its report on that election attributed the low turnout to a campaign for a boycott of the election by progressives in Swaziland.

It reported on the 2008 election, ‘The best indication we have of whether the boycott was a success or not is the voter turnout rate.’

Following the 2013 election, the Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported the turnout of people on election day was ‘about 400,000’. However, official figures from the EBC stated that only 411,084 Swazis living in Swaziland had registered to vote, which would have meant if the newspaper was correct the turnout would be 97.3 percent.

In the week following the election the Swaziland Democratic United Front suggested the turnout might be as low as 80,000. The Swaziland Communist Party put the figure at 100,000. 

The Swazi EBC has given no explanation why the full results cannot be released.

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