Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Only seven in a hundred Swazi people say they are ‘very satisfied’ with the way democracy works in Swaziland. 

And, more than half (51 percent) of the people in Swaziland do not think the kingdom is a democracy or it is a democracy with major problems.

This is despite the insistence of King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, that he heads a ‘monarchical democracy’. 

The findings were part of a survey just published by Afrobarometer.

Nearly six in ten people (59 percent) said they were ‘not at all free’ to say what they think.

And nearly three-quarters (73 percent) said they were ‘not at all free’ or ‘not very free’ to join any political organisation they wanted.

In Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the government. Organisations that advocate for multi-party democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

The survey was conducted in April 2015 within Swaziland. Its results will encourage those who say that Swazi people are not satisfied with the absolute monarchy in Swaziland and want a new democratic state.

Supporters of King Mswati which include all the news media in the kingdom often say that it is only people outside the kingdom who want change and that the Swazi people themselves are satisfied with the way things are.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues across more than 30 countries in Africa. It conducts face-to-face interviews.

This is not the first time Afrobarometer has found a desire for democracy in Swaziland. In 2014 in a report called ‘Let the People Have a Say’ it said more than six people in ten in Swaziland said they were not satisfied with the way democracy worked in the kingdom.

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 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.

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

Even though political parties are banned from taking part in elections, 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.

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