Two thirds of Swazi people want the kingdom to become a democracy, research just published reveals.
And, they want to choose their own leaders ‘through honest and open elections’.
They also strongly disapprove of allowing King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to decide on everything in Swaziland.
An opinion poll conducted by Afrobarometer asked 1,200 Swazis aged 18 or over from across the kingdom how democratic they thought Swaziland was. Only 12 percent said that at present Swaziland had ‘high levels’ of democracy. When asked where they would like the kingdom to be ‘in the future’, 67 percent said they wanted to see ‘high levels’ of democracy.
The findings contradict successive Swaziland Governments, which for years have claimed that ordinary Swazis were content with their political system. In September 2013, Swaziland held its national election: all political parties were banned from taking part and only 55 of the 65-member House of Assembly were elected by the people. The other 10 members were appointed by the King. No members of the 30-stong Swazi Senate are elected by the people.
King Mswati also appoints the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
Afrobarometer reported that 75 percent of people interviewed agreed with the statement, ‘We should choose our leaders through open and honest elections.’
Despite King Mswati’s stranglehold on political life in Swaziland, 46 percent of respondents agreed that, ‘Members of Parliament represent the people; therefore they should make laws for the country, even if the King does not agree.’
A total of 77 percent of respondents disapproved of abolishing elections and Parliament, ‘so that the King can decide on everything’.
Meanwhile, 70 percent of people said they disapproved of the statement that only one political party should be allowed to stand for election and hold office, but 58 percent also said they felt political parties ‘create division and confusion’ and it was ‘unnecessary to have many political parties in Swaziland’.
Afrobarometer is an African-led network of survey researchers and analysts, working in up to 35 countries on the continent.
It states its goal is, ‘To give the public a voice in policy making processes by providing high-quality public opinion data to policy-makers, policy advocates and civil society organizations, academics, media, donors and investors, and ordinary Africans.’