Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) says there are 600,000 people in the kingdom eligible to vote in this year’s national election.
At the last election in 2008 there were estimated to be only 400,000 people eligible to register, and of these, only 350,778 actually did so.
So, it raises a question that the EBC must answer with some urgency – where have the extra 200,000 people come from? The overall population of Swaziland has remained constant during this period at about 1.1 million people.
Swaziland is a kingdom riddled with corruption at all levels from the tiniest rural area to the largest cities and no one should believe anything they are told by the government or its agencies without evidence being provided.
If King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, claims after the election that more than 350,778 people voted this time we should be very suspicious indeed.
At the very least, the EBC should undertake to make the voters’ rolls open to public scrutiny, prior to the start of the primary elections. The credibility of the whole election is at stake if people cannot be certain the voters’ list is genuine.
Already, after only one week the electoral registration process is in chaos. Across the kingdom, people have being turning up to register at 400 registration centres only to be turned away. Excuses given to them range from computer equipment is not working to polling clerks have not been adequately trained to perform their duties.
According to one local media report, fewer than 20,000 people managed to register to vote over the first three days of registration.
The election is already causing controversy. A campaign to boycott the election because political parties are banned from taking part and because the Parliament that is selected has no real powers is gaining momentum.
The election is only to select 55 members of the House of Assembly. A further 10 members are appointed by the king. No members of the Senate House are elected by the people.
Of its 30 members, 20 are chosen by the king and 10 are elected by members of the House of Assembly.
SWAZI ELECTION ‘WILL BE A FRAUD’