Thursday, April 24, 2014


More than six people in ten in Swaziland say they are not satisfied with the way democracy works in the kingdom.

This was one of the findings in a report called ‘Let the People Have a Say’, published this week by Afrobarometer.

The research surveyed 34-countries in Africa and asked a series of questions about what people thought about democracy and how democratic they thought their own country was.

But, only in Swaziland were researchers were not allowed to ask a question about whether people rejected ‘one man rule’. In its report Afrobarometer said this was because ‘a near-absolute monarch resists democratization’ in the kingdom.

Among the report’s main findings were that in Swaziland 46 percent of people surveyed said ‘democracy is preferable to any other government.’

Only 35 percent of people were ‘somewhat or very satisfied’ with the way democracy worked in Swaziland.

A total of 22 percent of people said they believed non-democratic governments can be preferable to democracies.

In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and political parties that campaigned for democracy in the kingdom have been banned as terrorists. Even so, 70 percent of people strongly disapproved of one-party rule.

Dissent in Swaziland is often put down by police and state forces, but 86 percent of people rejected military rule for Swaziland.

Across the continent seven out of 10 Africans prefer democracy to other political regimes.

The report raised questions about the depth of Africans’ support for democracy, suggesting that levels of support depend on whether citizens were experiencing democracy and whether they felt they were benefitting from it. 

The report concluded the demand for, or commitment to, democracy was much lower in countries where democracy is disputed or elections are not held – such as Algeria, Egypt, Madagascar and Swaziland.

The report was authored by Professor Michael Bratton of Michigan State University in the United States and Richard Houessou of the Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy (IREEP) in Benin.

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