The Commonwealth has sent a special envoy to Swaziland in a bid to get the absolute monarch King Mswati III to democratise his kingdom.
The former Malawi president Bakili Muluzi is leading a team on a visit to Swaziland from 5 to 10 July 2015.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the government and top judges. The Suppression of Terrorism Act is used to suppress any attempt to discuss the need for democratic change.
The Commonwealth is pushing for the unbanning of political parties in Swaziland. It made a recommendation for this to happen after the 2013 nation election, but it has been ignored.
According to media reports in Malawi, Muluzi said he would hold discussions with a wide array of stakeholders, including the King, the King’s government ministers and civil society.
Commonwealth observers called for the Swazi Constitution to be rewritten after they concluded the kingdom’s national election in September 2013 was not entirely credible.
They said members of parliament ‘continue to have severely limited powers’ and political parties are banned.
The Commonwealth observers said there was ‘considerable room for improving the democratic system’.
In a report they said the Constitution needed to be revisited with an open debate on what changes were necessary.
It added, ‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative process with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (if needed, with the help of constitutional experts.’
It said, ‘The aim is to ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.’
POLL OBSERVERS: REWRITE CONSTITUTION