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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

‘ONLY ONE IN SIX VOTED AT ELECTION’



The full election results and details of the total number of people who voted in the Swaziland election last month have still not been released.

Speculation is rife in the kingdom that the turnout of voters might have been fewer than 100,000 – of the 600,000 people entitled to vote. This was after prodemocracy groups campaigned for a boycott of the elections in protest at their undemocratic nature. 

The Communist Party of Swaziland in a statement said, ‘Only just over 100,000 people voted in the primary elections. There was less than that voting in the second round. This is about 500,000 fewer voters than the Mswati regime trumpeted as likely to pack the voting stations. This is much less than in the previous elections, suggesting that popular dissatisfaction with the regime is increasing.’

Earlier the Swaziland United Democratic Front, a prodemocracy group, reported the turnout at 80,000.  

The Elections and Boundaries Commission announced the names of the winners at each of the 55 constituencies 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 not been revealed.

Sabelo Dlamini, a spokesperson for the Electoral Boundaries Commission, which ran the election, told the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa the number of actual votes cast was still being ‘tallied’. He denied to the newspaper that this was unusual or irregular and said, ‘This information is still being compiled and we will publish it as soon as we know.’  

However, this is clearly not true. If the number of votes a winner received in each constituency is known, then so too are the number of votes given to the losers. From here it is a simply step to add up the votes across all constituencies and announce the total turnout. In elections in democracies this is done immediately the vote is counted.

There is growing speculation about the size of the vote. The Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, reported ‘about 400,000’ people took part in the vote. If this were true the turnout would be about 97 percent, an unlikely figure, especially when at the last election in 2008, the turnout was54 percent. 
 
The election in Swaziland was controversial because the kingdom is not a democracy. All political parties were banned from taking part in the poll. Voters were only allowed to select 55 of the 65members of the House of Assembly, the other 10 are appointed by the king. None of the members of the 30-strong Senate House are elected by the people: the king appoints 20 members and the other 10 are elected by the House of Assembly.

The parliament has no real power as this rests with King Mswati.

See also

KING’S PAPER CLAIMS 97% TURNOUT

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