Swaziland’s ‘Monarchical Democracy’ is in full swing following last month’s election and King Mswati III is busy appointing members of his family and clan into positions in parliament. This week he appointed two princes, a princess and three members of his own Dlamini clan to the House of Assembly.
At the national election on 20 September the king’s subjects were only permitted to select 55 of the 65 members of the House of assembly. Political parties were banned from taking part and candidates had to stand as individuals.
Now, nearly three weeks after the election the full results of the vote have still not been published, despite promises from the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) that they would be released last week.
Prodemocracy campaigners have said that only about 100,000 of the 600,000 people entitled to vote actually did so. This followed a campaign to boycott the election.
After the election is over King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, appoints 10 members of the House of Assembly and 20 members of the 30-strong Senate House. The other 10 senate members are elected by the House of Assembly. No senators are elected by the people.
The king also appoints a Prime Minister. Speculation in the newspapers in Swaziland, which all support the king’s autonomous rule, is that the present PM Barnabas Dlamini will be reappointed.
Whatever the outcome, it is certain that the next PM will be a Dlamini: all of Swaziland’s past PMs since independence from Britain in 1968 have been from the king’s clan.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported that ‘by law, a prime minister is appointed among Dlamini members of the House of Assembly’.
But, no such law exists. The constitution of Swaziland, which is often ignored by the king, simply states that the PM should be chosen from among the members of the House of Assembly.
Weeks before the election King Mswati reported that he had received a vision during a thunderstorm that told him that Swaziland should be known as a ‘Monarchical Democracy’ where the people would work with the king to govern the kingdom.
Later, the king confirmed to the Reuters news agency, that ‘Monarchical Democracy’ was nothing more than a modern name for the tinkhundla system of governance that already existed in Swaziland.