People in Swaziland have been prevented from freely discussing issues in the run up to the election held on Friday (20 September 2013), a report from polling observers said.
‘Civil society meetings were crushed, including prayer meetings,’ according to the NGOs Election Network which operates under the Swazi-based Coordinating Assembly of Non-governmental Organisations (CANGO).
‘With no enjoyment of the rights to access information and also exchange information, freedom to associate, freedom of movement and freedom of speech it has become difficult for citizens to canvass issues,’ CANGO said in its Primary Elections Monitoring Report.
The CANGO election observers reported a number of problems with the primary elections held on 24 August.
‘Some polling stations opened late. Some ballot papers got finished and had to be fetched at Nkhanani and by the time ballot papers were made available some voters had already left.’
It added, ‘The voters’ roll was not user-friendly, some pictures were not easy to identify. The polling stations were not adequately announced for easy access. Transport was also a challenge. The lines were long and the elderly and disabled were poorly served even though attempts were made to meet their needs.’
CANGO noted allegations that some voters were bribed and bussed from towns to rural constituencies.
The secondary election which is for only 55 of the 65-member House of Assembly takes place on Friday (20 September 2013). Political parties are banned from taking part in the election. King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, selects the remaining 10 members. No members of the 30-strong Swazi Senate are elected by the people, twenty are appointed by the king and the other 10 are selected by the House of Assembly.
WHY ELECTION IS NOT CREDIBLE