Monday, May 6, 2019

Swaziland absolute monarch tries to sell his undemocratic kingdom to the world

Swaziland / eSwatini, which is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch, has started a campaign to encourage people internationally to support the kingdom’s undemocratic political system.

In Swaziland the Constitution allows the King to dominate all political and public life in the kingdom. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and groups that advocate multi-party democracy are outlawed. Individuals who speak out against the system are prosecuted under terrorism and sedition laws.

The system of government in Swaziland is known as ‘Tinkhundla’ or ‘monarchical democracy’. It puts all power in the hands of the monarchy. King Mswati chooses the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and many members of the House of Assembly and Senate. He also appoints members of the judiciary and all senior political postholders in his kingdom.

The King has demanded Minister of Tinkhundla Administration and Development David Ngcamphalala set up a task group to document the Tinkhundla ideology. According to the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, the task is to ‘correct misconceptions that have been developed, especially at the international stage,’ about the system of government in Swaziland. Ngcamphalala added he wanted to increase investor confidence in the kingdom.

The newspaper said the process of documenting the Tinkhundla system would include consultative meetings ‘with specific but relevant stakeholders’.

The intention, the Observer reported, was that after the review the ‘attitude would change internally and externally on how Emaswati [the people of Swaziland] are governed’.

However, the chances are the exercise is likely to only emphasise the lack of democracy in Swaziland. It is no secret that King Mswati rules as an absolute monarch. His position is enshrined in the Swaziland Constitution that came into effect in 2006.

Human rights violations in Swaziland have been well documented. Recently, the United States Department of State in its annual review of the kingdom, highlighted ‘human rights issues’ across a wide range of areas which included, ‘restrictions on political participation, corruption, rape and violence against women linked in part to government inaction, criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct, although rarely enforced, and child labor’. 

Amnesty International in a review of Swaziland for 2017 / 2018 stated, ‘The Public Order Act and the Suppression of Terrorism Act severely limited the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.’ 

It added, The Public Order Act, ‘curtailed the rights to freedom of assembly and association, imposing far-reaching restrictions on organizers of public gatherings. The Act also failed to provide mechanisms to hold law enforcement officials accountable for using excessive force against protesters or public gatherings.’

See also

No appetite by Swaziland to investigate human rights abuses, corruption: U.S. report

Swaziland in economic freefall with human rights failings, report shows

Swaziland ‘not free’ as King keeps grip on power, Freedom House reports

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