As Swaziland goes to the polls on Friday (20 September 2013), King Mswati III’s propaganda machine is working at full throttle to mislead people inside and outside the kingdom that the election is credible.
Top of the propagandists’ agenda is to try to fool people that the election is to choose a new government. It is not. The elections have no real purpose other than to give King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, a fig leaf of democracy.
Here are 10 reasons why the election in Swaziland should not be considered credible.
1. Political parties are banned from taking part in the election so no debate is possible about alternative policies being pursued by the outgoing government.
2. The election is only for 55 of the 65-member House of Assembly. The other ten members are appointed by King Mswati III. No members of the 30-strong Swaziland Senate are elected; 20 are appointed by the king and 10 are selected by the House of Assembly.
3.The people do not elect a government. The Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers are appointed by the King. The outgoing PM Barnabas Dlamini was appointed by the king in contravention of the constitution. He has never been elected to political office.
4. Only a man with the surname Dlamini can, by tradition, be appointed as Prime Minister. The king is a Dlamini.
5. The Swazi Parliament has no powers. King Mswati can, and does, overrule decisions he does not like. This was the case in October 2012 when the king refused to accept a vote of no confidence passed by the House of Assembly on his government, even though he was obliged by the constitution to do so.
6. Nominations for the primary elections were marred by allegations of interference by chiefs, who represent King Mswati. Some women were barred from taking part in the nomination process because they were wearing trousers.
7. Complaints were aired in local newspapers that some people who wished to be nominated were prevented from doing so illegally by nominating officers.
8. Candidates in the primary election were barred by law fromcampaigning, so voters had no way of questioning and challenging candidates about what they would do if elected.
9. the secondary election to take place on 20 September 2013 follows a primary election process that was flawed. Numerous cases are pending at the High Court alleging election malpractice.
10 The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) received many complaints following the primary election. These include the buying of votes; polling stations either open for too many hours (or too few) and people being turned away from polling stations.
THE CASE FOR POLITICAL PARTIES
SWAZI ELECTION ‘WILL BE A FRAUD’