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Why elections in Swaziland are not democratic

By Richard Rooney
A special report from Swazi Media Commentary


Why elections in Swaziland are not democratic

By Richard Rooney

Published by: SMC Online Publishers

July 2018

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Suggested citation: Rooney, R. (2018) Organised Certainty, Why

Elections in Swaziland are not Democratic. SMC Online
Publishers [Internet] plus details of URL where it was downloaded
(if applicable).



Executive summary 4

1 Political background 9

2 Elections and Boundaries Commission 14

3 Election run-up 21

4 Election registration and nominations 28

5 Primary election 33

6 Secondary election 44

7 Election results and aftermath 49

8 Media coverage of the election 52

9 Disputes and court procedures 63

10 Final words 68

Appendix: Commonwealth Observer Mission Report 71



CPS Communist Party of Swaziland

EBC Elections and Boundaries Commission

EEM European Union Election Experts Mission

PUDEMO People’s United Democratic Movement

SSN Swaziland Solidarity Network

SNUS Swaziland National Union of Students

SUDF Swaziland United Democratic Front

SWAYOCO Swaziland Youth Congress



Swaziland voters go to the polls on 21 September 2018 for the national

election but we can already name the winner – it will be the absolute
monarch King Mswati III. In the kingdom’s tinkhundla political system
political parties are banned from taking part and people are only
allowed to elect 59 members of the House of Assembly, the King
chooses another ten. No members of the 30-strong Senate are elected by
the people. When the election is over King Mswati will choose a Prime
Minister and cabinet. He also chooses top judges and civil servants.

As a measure of his power in April 2018 on his fiftieth birthday and in

the year that Swaziland marked its fiftieth anniversary of independence
from Great Britain the King announced unilaterally that Swaziland
would henceforth be named Eswatini. No public debate took place and
a legal notice was signed.

A system of ‘Monarchical Democracy’ invented by King Mswati in

2013 to justify his power exists in Swaziland. He called it a system
formed by merging the will of the people with the monarch. He tried to
sell this a new idea but he later admitted to Reuters news agency (13
September 2013) that it was just another name for the tinkhundla
system that already existed.

European Union Election Experts Mission (EEM), one of a number of

international groups that monitored the conduct of Swaziland’s election
in 2013, made much of how the kingdom’s absolute monarchy
undermined democracy. It reported, ‘The King has absolute power and
is considered to be above the law, including the Constitution, enjoying
the power to assent laws and immunity from criminal proceedings. A
bill shall not become law unless the King has assented to it, meaning
that the parliament is unable to pass any law which the King is in
disagreement with.’

Organised Certainty examines Swaziland elections and demonstrates

that power rests with the King regardless of who the people put into the
House of Assembly. People do not elect the government and have no
way of influencing its policies. The report follows the last poll in 2013
step by step from the period running up to it and through the long-
drawn out election process that includes registration, nominations, a
primary election and a final (secondary) vote.

Section one details the political landscape of Swaziland. The Institute

for Security Studies called the tinkhundla elections ‘organised certainty’
because they changed nothing and allowed the ruling regime to have an
unchallenged monopoly over state resources.

Section two reviews the work of the Elections and Boundaries

Commission (EBC) that was launched in 2008 under great controversy.
Chief Gija Dlamini, an engineer and one of King Mswati’s half-
brothers, was appointed chair although the Constitution stated the
position should go to a judge. The EBC has been under constant
criticism since because of its inability to competently run elections. The
section also details the election process from registration through to the
final (secondary) election.

Section three covers the period running up to the 2013 election which
was characterised by increasingly violent and abusive behaviour of
police and state forces. International observers such as the Open Society
Initiative for Southern Africa reported that the state was unable to
accept that peaceful political and social dissent was a vital element of a
healthy democratic process. The Swaziland United Democratic Front
and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign said police in Swaziland had
become a private militia. The section using contemporary sources
details a number of cases of meetings and prayers being disrupted and
prodemocracy campaigners arrested.


Section four looks at registration and nominations in the 2013 election.

Registration was characterised by blunders by the EBC and corruption.
Nominations descended into chaos across Swaziland as equipment
failed and some candidates who wanted to be nominated were
prevented because electoral officers would not allow it. Women were
banned from nomination because they wore trousers to nomination

Section five examines the primary election. This takes place at

chiefdoms and at the end of the process one candidate is selected to go
forward to the secondary election at tinkhundla / constituency level.
Bribery and corruption allegations were widely reported and the
primary elections were riddled with problems including incorrect ballot
papers issued, alleged tampering of ballot boxes, wrong results
announced, campaign laws broken and residents threatening to boycott
the poll. In at least one case riot police had to escort ballot boxes from
the polling station.

Section six reviews the secondary election, the stage of voting where
the member of the House of Assembly is finally elected. Election
observers reported it went more smoothly than the primary election but
the vote was marred by instances of violence. Police brutally stopped a
peaceful march after voters at one constituency protested the result and
there were fears of election rigging elsewhere. Nine people including an
85-year-old woman were taken to hospital when voters at a Lomahasha
polling station reported stampeded.

Section seven reports the election results and the aftermath. Although
the names of winning candidates were promptly announced it took the
EBC more than three years to formally release the results. Only four in
ten people entitled to vote did so at the secondary election.


Shortly after the election, King Mswati named two princes, a princess
and three members of his own Dlamini clan among his 10 appointees to
the House of Assembly. He also appointed six members of his family to
the Senate, where he picks 20 members. He then appointed another 16
members of his Royal Family to top political jobs; effectively carving
up public life in the kingdom in his favour.

There were nine princess and princesses and a further seven from the
family Dlamini in the 24-strong Liqoqo (the Swaziland National
Council), the most powerful of the committees that nominally advises
the King. There were four princes and princesses and four Dlaminis in
the Ludzidzimi Council, which advises the Queen Mother. The Border
Restoration Committee which exists to try to get South Africa to give
some of its territory to King Mswati had three princes and princesses
and five Dlaminis among its 14 members. King Mswati also
reappointed Barnabas Dlamini as Prime Minister.

Section eight explores media coverage of the elections. Nearly all

broadcast media are state controlled and censored. One of only two
daily newspapers in the kingdom is in effect owned by King Mswati.
The media told their audiences and readers that it was their duty to
support the King by voting. Often media reported that people were
electing a government when they were not. International media were
more revealing, often reporting the opposition view that the election
was a fraud.

Section nine looks at disputes and court procedures. The 2013 election
did not end with the announcement of the winners. The Swaziland High
Court was kept busy with a number of claims of malpractice. A total of
31 election cases were brought before the High Court for determination
by prospective and actual candidates for election and 23 cases were


Section ten offers some final words by reprising human rights reports
from international organisations for the year 2017 (the most recent
available). Among a long list violations are arbitrary interference with
privacy and home; restrictions on freedoms of speech, assembly, and
association; denial of citizens’ ability to choose their government in free
and fair elections; institutional lack of accountability in cases involving
rape and violence against women and criminalization of same-sex
sexual conduct.

Appendix one is an extract from the Commonwealth Observer Mission

Report on the 2013 election. The EBC accredited more than 400
international and local observers to witness the poll. In its report, the
EBC listed good practices and areas for improvement highlighted by
observers but it ignored the fact that many groups declared the election
was not free and fair because Swaziland was not a democracy. The
extract from the Commonwealth Observer Mission offers a more
complete picture. It concludes, ‘that the entire process could not be
deemed credible, due to major democratic deficits’.



Although elections take place every five years, Swaziland is widely

recognised as an absolute monarchy headed by King Mswati III and the
Queen Mother Ntombi and a non-party state where executive authority
lies in the King as the head of state, governing with his Advisory
Council (Liqoqo) and traditional advisers. It is the only country in the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) that excludes
political parties from participation in election and representation in
elective state structures.

The Swaziland constitution that came into force in 2006 gives

legislative power to the King who can veto all legislation approved by
parliament. He also enjoys judicial powers and has full control over the
bureaucracy and the security establishment in the country. The
monarchy also has major control of key areas of the Swazi economy
through the royal corporation Tibiyo TakaNgwane.

The kingdom has a bicameral Parliament or Libandla that consists of

the Senate and the House of Assembly. None of the 30 members of the
Swazi Senate are elected by the people; the King chooses 20 and the
other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. At past
elections people only got to select 55 of 65 members of the House of
Assembly. The King chose the other 10. In 2018 there will be an
additional four constituencies, known as tinkhundla, for people to vote
at. It has not been announced how many members the King will choose
but the Swaziland Constitution allows him to pick up to ten.

The Institute for Security Studies in 2012 said tinkhundla elections

could essentially be defined as ‘organised certainty’, since they did not
lead to change. It went on to say, ‘The ruling regime enjoys an
unchallenged monopoly over state resources, and elections have
increasingly become arenas for competition over patronage and not

policy. This has underlined observers’ historic criticism of Swazi

elections. For example, the 2013 election observation report of the
Commonwealth Expert Team questioned the elections’ credibility
because they resulted in ‘a Parliament which does not have power’,
indicating a predictable reconfiguration of power because of the ban on
political party participation. Similarly, external observer mission reports
in 2008 underscored the need for political plurality and recommended
that the government compromise on ‘sections of the constitution that
create conflict between government and civil society’. The reports made
specific mention of the lack of registration and participation of political
parties in elections and governance structures that seem to undermine
the legitimacy of the political process and also enable unnecessary
social and political conflict and unrest that endangers the stability of the
state and the well-being of society.

Swaziland became a constitutional monarchy with independence from

Britain in September 1968 under King Sobhuza II and held its first post-
independence elections in 1973. Swaziland inherited a democratic
system modelled on Westminster, but with a large amount of power
concentrated in the hands of the monarchy.

At independence the royalist Imbokodvo National Movement (INM)

had all 24 seats in the lower house of Parliament, but at the first election
after independence, held in 1973, the opposition Ngwane National
Liberatory Congress (NNLC) won three seats. This outcome was
regarded by the monarchy as a threat to itself. On 12 April 1973 King
Sobhuza abrogated the constitution, dismissed Parliament and assumed
all powers of state, legislative, executive and judicial. He proclaimed
that he would rule by decree in council with the cabinet and
transformed himself from a formal constitutional monarch, with
relatively broad executive powers, into an absolute executive monarch.


To give a legal basis and legitimacy to the new order the 1978
Establishment of the Parliament of Swaziland Order was promulgated
creating the present tinkhundla system. The country’s dual system of
governance – the parliamentary and the traditional system, based on the
tinkhundla continues today.

The United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a report on

Swaziland in 2013 said there was no effective democracy in Swaziland.
‘The King has the power summarily to appoint and dismiss ministers,
all parliamentary candidates require the approval of their chief (who is
dependent on the monarch for wealth and power) and while political
parties are not forbidden, they are banned from participating in
elections. All candidates must run as independents.’

It added, ‘Swaziland continues to suffer from a range of governance

problems which adversely impact human rights and inhibit the
country’s social and economic development and its ability to attract
much-needed foreign investment. The judicial system has suffered
repeated crises; the Suppression of Terrorism Act has been used to
prevent legitimate expression of political views; peaceful protests have
been disrupted and in some cases excessive force used against
protesters. The absence of clearly documented land rights has prevented
small farmers from developing their land. Efforts to amend Swaziland’s
laws to prevent domestic violence and to improve the legal status of
women have made little progress.’

The European Union Election Experts Mission (EEM), one of a number

of international groups that monitored the conduct of Swaziland’s
election in 2013, made much of how the kingdom’s absolute monarchy
undermined democracy.

In its report it stated, ‘The King has absolute power and is considered to
be above the law, including the Constitution, enjoying the power to

assent laws and immunity from criminal proceedings. A bill shall not
become law unless the King has assented to it, meaning that the
parliament is unable to pass any law which the King is in disagreement
with. The King will refer back the provisions he is not in agreement
with, which makes the parliament and its elected chamber, the House of
Assembly, ineffective, unable to achieve the objective a parliament is
created for: to be the legislative branch of the state and maintain the
government under scrutiny.’

The EEM went on to say the ‘main principles for a democratic state are
not in place’ in Swaziland. It stated, ‘Elections are a mechanism for the
popular control of government and ensure the government
accountability to the people. The King appoints the Cabinet. A vote of
no confidence in the prime minister and government from more than
two-thirds of the members of the House, in October [2012], was easily
reversed although the Constitution provides that in such cases the prime
minister shall be removed from office.

‘In this context, an analysis of the legal framework for elections seems
quite a redundant exercise, as the main principles for a democratic state
are not in place. Although the electoral legal framework contains the
technical aspects required for the proper administration of elections, it
does not conform to international principles for the conduct of
democratic elections, as it does not respect one of the fundamental
rights for participation –the freedom of association.’

The EEM was not alone in recognising Swaziland as undemocratic. In

its report on conduct of the 2013 election, the African Union (AU)
mission called for fundamental changes to ensure people had freedom
of speech and of assembly. The AU said the Swaziland Constitution
guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to
freedom of association’, but in practice ‘rights with regard to political


assembly and association are not fully enjoyed’. The AU said this was
because political parties were not allowed to contest elections.

The AU urged Swaziland to review the constitution, especially in the

areas of ‘freedoms of conscience, expression, peaceful assembly,
association and movement as well as international principles for free
and fair elections and participation in electoral process’.

In its report on the 2013 elections, Commonwealth observers

recommended that measures be put in place to ensure separation of
powers between the government, parliament and the courts so that
Swaziland was in line with its international commitments. They also
called on the Swaziland Constitution to be ‘revisited’. The report stated,
‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive,
consultative process with all Swazi political organisations and civil
society (needed, with the help of constitutional experts), to harmonise
those provisions which are in conflict. The aim is to ensure that
Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.’

It also recommended that a law be passed to allow for political parties

to take part in elections, ‘so as to give full effect to the letter and spirit
of Section 25 of the Constitution, and in accordance with Swaziland’s
commitment to its regional and international commitments’.

In 2015, following a visit to Swaziland, a Commonwealth mission

renewed its call for the constitution to be reviewed so the kingdom
could move toward democracy.



The elections are managed by the Elections and Boundaries

Commission (EBC) which was appointed into office in 2008 for a
period not exceeding twelve years. Its appointment, tenure of office,
functions and other operational measures are provided under Sections
90 to 92 of the Constitution. Its mandate is to: (a) oversee and supervise
voter registration and ensure fair and free elections at primary,
secondary and other levels; (b) facilitate civic and voter education as
maybe necessary in between elections; (c) review and determine the
boundaries of tinkhundla areas for purposes of elections; (d) perform
such other functions in connection with elections or boundaries as may
be prescribed; and (e) produce periodic reports in respect of work done.

In its own report of the 2013 election, which was not published until
2017 (four years after the vote), the EBC itself recognised some of its
shortcomings and called for a five-year strategy and action plan to be
developed as it felt unable to make informed decisions on elections.
Education and training of election staff was a major priority and, it
stated, the Commission should have independence to hire its own staff
and to ensure financial autonomy.

The Commission consists of five members. Its chair is Chief Gija

Dlamini, a half-brother of King Mswati. It is supported by a secretariat
of 21 people.

In a report on its observation of the conduct of the 2008 election the

EISA (Electoral Institute of Southern Africa) made a scathing critique
of the EBC and its relationship to the King. It stated, ‘Almost all the
stakeholders regarded the members of the EBC as royal appointees.
Stakeholders did not regard the EBC as independent and believed that
the EBC operated under the instruction of the King. Stakeholders also
expressed the view that the EBC was not representative of society as a

whole, but was drawn exclusively from government officials or

members of the aristocracy.

‘Most believed that the Commissioners do not meet the qualifications

laid down in the constitution in Article 90(6): “The chairperson, deputy
chairperson and the other members of the Commission shall possess the
qualifications of a Judge of the superior courts or be persons of high
moral character, proven integrity, relevant experience and demonstrable
competence in the conduct of public affairs”’.

EISA added, ‘Most stakeholders were of the view that the EBC was
lacking in transparency and secretive in its operations. They felt that
even information that should indisputably have been in the public
domain, such as the election timetable, was given out piecemeal and
very late in the day.’

It added, ‘There is an almost universal perception amongst stakeholders

that the King has undue powers in regard to the appointment of the
members of the EBC and in its day to day functioning, so that its
independence from the executive is brought into question. The Team
recommends that alternative models of appointing the EBC be explored,
and adapted to Swaziland’s needs so as to secure the EBC’s
independence from the executive and the perception of independence in
the eyes of stakeholders.’

Unusually for Swaziland where the news media are heavily-censored

and criticism of the King is unheard, both the kingdom’s daily
newspapers attacked the appointment of Chief Gija, but without
revealing his link to the King. They complained Chief Gija was
unqualified for the post of chair since he had been employed as an
engineer for 20 years at the Swaziland Water Services Commission.
The appointment of Chief Gija and the rest of the EBC Commission,
who also did not seem to be qualified for the job, caused outrage in the

Swazi newspapers. Thulani Thwala, editor of the Swazi News, (the

Saturday edition of the Times of Swaziland) writing in his own
newspaper (8 March 2008) said none of the five members were really
properly qualified for the job. Thwala said that Gija ‘has never been a
judge and from the look of things he is nowhere near being a judge’ he
was appointed because ‘he is a hard-core traditionalist, who heeds all
royal command’. Thwala said that the Swazi Constitution was being
ignored. He wrote, ‘Was the Constitution drafted in good faith or was it
purely availed for the country to appease the international community
for us to continue getting donations we so much adore?’ Thwala added,
‘My worry is whether the EBC is ready to reward us with sound MPs or
its duty would be to rig the elections.’

The Weekend Observer (8 March 2008), a newspaper in effect owned

by King Mswati, interviewed civic society organisations and found they
were ‘worried about the people who were appointed into the
commission’. Members of the EBC keep the job for 12 years. In its
report the Weekend Observer noted, ‘In the event the commissioners
blunder because of lack of political experience the Judicial Service
Commission will have to take the blame for ignoring high, learned and
experienced Swazis.’

A spokesperson for the Swaziland National Association of Teachers

told the Weekend Observer the commissioners ‘lacked experience at
political and leadership level’. The Lawyers for Human Rights said Gija
was unqualified for the job. ‘His job requires a high level of knowledge
in politics, constitutional law and international relations. The Weekend
Observer quoted a spokesman saying there were many other Swazis
who were qualified for the job.

The Times Sunday (9 March 2008) in an editorial said the nation was
‘clueless’ as to how the members of the EBC were selected. The
process of selection had not been transparent, the newspaper said. The

Times Sunday also reported the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned

Civic Organisations (SCCCO), which said the way in which the
members were selected ‘shows the executive’s complete disregard for
the principles of parliamentary supremacy’.

SCCCO noted, ‘with extreme concern the utter disregard for both the
spirit and the nature of the Swazi constitution in the appointment of
members of the EBC’. The Times Sunday quoted SCCCO saying, ‘We
will not stand idly by and watch our votes be rendered useless by a
system that regards Parliament and elections as mere window-dressing
to appease other states and give the impression of democracy to satisfy
international donors.’ SCCCO challenged the legality of the EBC and
lack of qualifications of members of its board in the High Court. The
court on a two-to-one majority in March 2009 dismissed the case on a
legal technicality.

Soon after its inception, the EBC declared it was the only one to be
allowed to engage in ‘civic education’ about the national election in
Swaziland. This meant that no other person or organisation would be
permitted to inform the public about the process of the election. Chief
Gija told the Swazi Observer newspaper (30 April 2008) that this was
the ‘sole prerogative’ of the EBC. He particularly said that local chiefs
had no right to ‘usurp the powers of the EBC’. Chief Gija told the
newspaper, ‘It would be unfortunate for any chief to usurp the powers
of the EBC and start teaching people about the elections.’

Bishop Meshack Mabuza, Chairperson of SCCCO in a media statement

criticised the EBC’s ‘stunning lack of respect for civil rights’. He
added, ‘The Board was set up on 10 March [2008] and in its first six
weeks of operation has already trampled on our constitution and our
rights to due legal process, an independent judiciary, freedom of speech,
freedom of the press and good practice in interpreting statutory law. So
far it has banned reporters from public meetings solely because it does

not like the way they report – how very thin-skinned from people who
are constitutionally supposed to show “demonstrable competence in the
conduct of public affairs”. A competent authority would understand the
role, nature and workings of the press and get its message across -


The EBC produced a guide called The Conduct of Elections. What

follows is a summary from it of the election process from voter
registration, through nominations to primary and secondary elections.

Voter Registration

This stage of the election process allows for the registration of voters
for purposes of electing Members of Parliament, Constituency
Headman (Indvuna) and Inkhundla Executive Members (Bucopho). The
registration process takes place at the chiefdoms and other designated
places and the dates for the registration are announced by the
Commission. All along, we have been using the once off registration
system. We are now working towards adopting the continuous voter
registration system.

On the day of registration, the voter must bring some form of

identification. In the event he or she does not have one, he or she may
still register in the presence of the Competent Witnesses as defined in
the Voter Registration Act. The Commission is using the Optimal Mark
Recognition (OMR) System. Under it, the voter is identified by means
of an identity card, a photograph and a thumbprint.


Once the registration is completed, the data obtained from the

registration centres is then used as a basis for preparing the draft voters’

Nomination Stage

Following the voter registration process and the preparation of the

voters’ roll, a writ is then issued by the King indicating dates for
nominations, primary elections, campaign and secondary elections.

Nominations take place at the chiefdoms as set out in the Elections Act,
2013. On the day of nomination, the name of the nominee is raised by a
show of hand and the nominee is given an opportunity to indicate
whether he or she accepts the nomination. If he or she accepts it, he or
she must be supported by at least ten members of that chiefdom. The
nominations are for the position of Member of Parliament, Constituency
Headman (Indvuna) and the Constituency Executive Committee

The minimum number of nominees is three and the maximum is twenty.

The nomination process takes place in the open, persons are nominated
by a show of hand and the nomination is done by the community. Those
nominated then contest elections at primary level.

Primary Elections

Primary elections also take place at the chiefdom level. It is by secret

ballot. During the primary elections, the voters are given an opportunity
to elect the member of the executive committee (Bucopho) for that
particular chiefdom.

Aspiring Members of Parliament and the Constituency Headman are

also elected from each chiefdom. At the end of the primary elections,

there should be one candidate for the position of the Member of

Parliament and one for the position of the Constituency Headman who
are going to contest elections at secondary level. The election for the
Executive Committee Member (Bucopho) goes up to the primary level.


Between primary and secondary elections, candidates are given an

opportunity to campaign in the various constituencies.

Secondary Elections

It takes place at the various constituencies. All the nominees at

chiefdom level contest elections at constituency level. The nominees
with majority votes become the winners and they become Members of
Parliament or Constituency Headman. That completes the elections
process at the chiefdom and constituency levels.



To explore the efficiency, transparency and democratic openness of the

election process in Swaziland the following sections will review what
happened at the most recent national election in 2013, through each
stage from the election run-up through registration and onto the
secondary election and its aftermath.

In the run-up to the election, Swaziland police and state security forces
were condemned on the international stage for their ‘increasingly
violent and abusive behaviour’ that was leading to the ‘militarization’
of the kingdom.

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported

things were so bad in the kingdom that police were unable to accept that
peaceful political and social dissent was a vital element of a healthy
democratic process, and should not be viewed as a crime. Their
complaints were made at the African Commission on Human and
Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in The Gambia on 10 April 2013.

OSISA said, ‘There are also reliable reports of a general militarization

of the country through the deployment of the Swazi army, police and
correctional services to clamp down on any peaceful protest action by
labour or civil society organisations ahead of the country’s
undemocratic elections.’

In particular, OSISA highlighted how the police continued to clamp

down on dissenting voices and the legitimate public activities of
opposition political parties prior to, during and after elections. In a
statement OSISA said, ‘Swaziland and Zimbabwe are both due to hold
elections in the coming months and the police in both countries are
notorious for preventing public rallies and harassing opposition


politicians and civil society figures in the run-up to polls – a clear

violation of the basic right to freedom of assembly.’

On 16 February, armed state police closed down a peaceful prayer

meeting held by prodemocracy activists at the Our Lady of Assumption
catholic cathedral in Manzini. It was attended by Bishop Paul Verryna
and Mafika Dlamini from the South African Council of Churches, as
well as priests and pastors from the Swaziland Council of Swaziland
Churches and the Concerned Church Leaders. It had been jointly
organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the
Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). It had originally been
scheduled to take place at the Bosco Skills Centre in Manzini. The
venue was changed to the cathedral at the last minute after organisers
realised the police intended to block people entering Bosco.

Charles Tsabedze, the police Manzini Regional Commander, said they

broke up the meeting because, ‘We heard that the prayer was aimed at
strategizing logistics that will be used to sabotage the national
elections.’ The police had no court order or warrant and thereby acted
outside of the Swaziland Constitution. Earlier in the week organisers in
a public statement had said the prayer would be part of their campaign
for a people’s government and would call for a boycott of the election.

After the police broke up the meeting the organisers issued a statement.
‘The prayer was aimed at launching our nationwide campaign for a
people`s government using peaceful means and in a language that every
Swazi understands; Religion. The security forces were up in arms well
before the date for the prayer and intimidated and harassed the workers
at the venue at which the prayer was to be held. As such, we had to
abandon the Bosco Skills Centre at the last minute and try to find an
alternative venue.


‘As early as 7 a.m., the police were all over the town of Manzini with a
large concentration being around the Bosco Skills Centre, Salesian and
St. Theresa’s schools, Caritas and the Catholic Church; these being in
close proximity to each other. Prodemocracy activists were turned away
from the Bosco Skills Centre and threateningly told to “go pray in their
homes” and patronisingly told that today is a Saturday and therefore not
a day of worship. The activists and the ordinary Swazi defiantly
regrouped under the leadership of the SUDF/SDC and proceeded to
seek refuge at the Catholic Church and they were welcomed and the
Cathedral availed to them to hold their prayer. However, the police
came swooping in and ensured that this plan too was thwarted. The
church was completely surrounded and invaded and the police
threatened everyone telling them to vacate “or else”. Bishop Paul
Verryna intervened with at least a closing prayer, but mid-way he was
told his “time is up” and he should “shut up” and everyone was
forcefully herded out of the church.’

The disruption of the prayer meeting was only one of many police
interventions in the run-up to the election. On 12 April, democrats
wanted to mark the 40th anniversary of King Sobhuza’s Royal Decree
(that in 1973 turned Swaziland from a democracy to a kingdom ruled by
an autocratic monarch) by holding a public meeting to discuss the
election in Swaziland. Armed police and riot troops, acting without a
court order, physically blocked the restaurant in Manzini where the
meeting was to take place. The police said the meeting was a threat to
state security.

A week later, on 19 April, the 45th birthday of King Mswati III, the
banned youth group SWAYOCO tried to hold a rally at Msunduza
Township in Mbabane to discuss the election. Again, police, forced the
meeting to close. Organisers of the meeting were charged with


Following these events, raids on the homes of democracy activists in

Swaziland took place. Wonder Mkhonza, the National Organizing
Secretary of the banned political party the People’s United Democratic
Movement (PUDEMO) was allegedly found in possession of 5,000
pamphlets belonging to PUDEMO and was charged with sedition.

SUDF and SDC in a joint statement said police in Swaziland were now
a ‘private militia’ with the sole purpose of serving the Royal regime.
Separately, the US Embassy in Swaziland voiced its ‘deep concern’
about the way the police engaged in ‘acts of intimidation and fear’
against people seeking their political rights.

In May, police refused to allow women to march at Siphofaneni in

protest against gender-based violence because they and the local chief
did not want any noise ahead of the election. It was to protest at an
incident in the area when a wife was paraded naked for three kilometres
by her boyfriend after he accused her of being ‘promiscuous’. The
Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly (SRWA) responded by
organizing a march in solidarity with the woman. They wanted to march
for three kilometres in the area then go to a church and hold a prayer.
SRWA decided to defy the ban and continue with the march.

In June, armed police stopped the Swaziland Youth Empowerment

Organisation (also known as Luvatsi) from holding an election
workshop at a local church at Sidvokodvo. The police had no warrant or
court order, but were acting on instructions of their station commander,
local media reported. The workshop was to cover the election, human
rights and democracy. About 50 young people from Sidvokodvo and
surrounding areas were reported to have assembled at the Pentecostal
Church for the workshop by the time police arrived.

On 5 September, Vincent Ncongwane Secretary General of the banned

union federation Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA),

was arrested at his office by at least 10 police officers to stop him

taking part in a democracy march. Police took him to his home where
he was put under house arrest. The march was part of a week of
campaigning in Swaziland and abroad to draw attention to the lack of
democracy and human rights in the kingdom. Police said the march was
‘prohibited’ because TUCOSWA was not an organisation recognised by
the government. Earlier joint organisers the Swaziland National Union
of Students, SUDF and SDC predicted 10,000 people would take part.

The following day on 6 September at 2 a.m. armed police and

paramilitaries arrested all members of an international panel of experts
who were due to meet to debate the role of trade unions in Swaziland.
They raided the George Hotel in Manzini where they were staying after
earlier trailing them from the airport near Matsapha. The panelists were
due to take evidence and then present their findings after the hearing.
They were expected to highlight the role and responsibility of trade
unions and civil society in fighting against the violation of fundamental
rights in Swaziland.

The South African trade union federation COSATU reported that the
panel was to consist of Alec Muchadehama (human rights lawyer and
activist from Zimbabwe), Paul Verryn (ordained minister of the
Methodist Church of Southern Africa, anti-Apartheid activist and
advocate for refugees in South Africa) and Nomthetho Simelane
(former lecturer in Political Science, University of Swaziland). It was to
be chaired by Jay Naidoo, founding General Secretary of COSATU and
former Minister of Communications for South Africa.

Later in September, Musa Dube, deputy general secretary of the

Communist Party of Swaziland was charged with sedition for allegedly
distributing leaflets at Kakhoza in Manzini calling for a boycott of the
election. He also allegedly had a t-shirt advertising the banned
PUDEMO in his possession at the time of his arrest.

At about the same time news emerged that a sugar cane farmer had been
charged with sedition for allegedly making unfavourable comments
about King Mswati. Allen Nkululeko Mango, aged 48, of Manzini, was
alleged to have made comments against the King near the offices of
Vuvulane Town Board. The Times of Swaziland, (18 September 2013)
reported that the charge against Mango was that he, ‘wrongfully and
unlawfully made comments which brought hatred or contempt against
the King of Swaziland, King Mswati III so that he can be hated by his
subjects at Vuvulane.’ The comments were alleged to have been made
on 5 February 2013, but Mango was only arrested on 13 September.

As with previous elections, leaders of trade unions, led by TUCOSWA,

pro-democracy groups and students urged a boycott of the poll. In June
2012 about 2,000 participants at a ‘People’s Parliament’ organised by
SCCCO held in Manzini also agreed to campaign for an election

The best-known opposition group in Swaziland, the banned PUDEMO,

also called for international election observers to boycott the poll
because political parties were outlawed. Mario Masuku, President of
PUDEMO, told Voice of America (1 February 2013) the election was a
charade and a mockery of democracy and an affront to Swazis. He said
the balloting did not allow Swazis to freely choose their representatives.
He said members of PUDEMO were unlikely to participate in the vote.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said in a statement (2 March

2013), ‘Having the nation boycott this window-dressing exercise would
therefore be a public relations coup by the population because it would
mean that the facade has been exposed and the people want a genuine
parliament with the power to make decisions.’ SUDF Coordinator
Wandile Dludlu urged a boycott to record the lowest turn-out in history.
The CPS called for an immediate dissolution of the government to be

replaced by ‘an interim government of democratic representation from

all sections of progressive forces and every community’.

Swaziland’s best known student leader Maxwell Dlamini, President of

the Swaziland Nationals Union of Students (SNUS), who had himself
been tortured and harassed by Swazi security forces and was on trial in
a case of possessing explosives, told Kenworthy News Media (3
February 2013) that SNUS was mobilizing against the Swazi elections,
both at home and abroad.

Mzwandile Fakudze, deputy chair of the EBC, warned those who

sought to stand in the way of elections, which was tantamount to
treason, would face the wrath of the law. In January 2013 the Swazi
Observer quoted him saying, ‘Committing the offence of treason entails
when a person subverts or shows potential to subvert the activities of
the state even if it is without the use of arms, weapons or military
equipment.’ People convicted of treason in Swaziland could face the
death penalty.

Swazi Police Deputy Public Relations Officer Inspector Khulani

Mamba said threats to the state were not taken lightly, especially if such
threats were of intent to sabotage national elections because then it
becomes the country’s security concern.



The registration was marred by inefficiency and corruption. At the start

of the registration period people across the kingdom went to register at
400 centres only for many of them to be to be turned away because of
computer failures or polling clerks had not been properly trained to
perform their duties. The ability of members of the EBC to do their job
was questioned.

The campaign to sign up voters was sluggish and the EBC struggled to
generate interest so registration was extended by a week. Eventually,
the EBC announced 414,704 people had registered to vote out of the
600,000 people in the kingdom it said were eligible. At the previous
election in 2008, the EBC signed up 88 percent of the eligible 400,000
population. If it signed up a similar proportion in 2013, there should
have been 528,000 people on the electoral roll.

The EBC said it did not have enough money to run the election
successfully as the Swazi Government had cut its allocation from E200
million to E100 million. EBC claimed that it could not afford enough
staff to monitor the registration of voters across the whole kingdom.

The nominations process descended into chaos in parts of the kingdom.

Some people boycotted in protest that venues selected for the
nominations were unsuitable. Elsewhere equipment failures delayed the
start of nomination. There was reported corruption with the EBC saying
some people were offered bribes of E100 (US$10 at the then exchange
rate) or E200 to register twice.

About 400 residents of Ebutfongweni in the Manzini region under

Kukhanyeni Inkhundla said they would not participate in the
nominations process because it was being conducted at Nkiliji under
Chief Mkhumbi Dlamini. They said they did not pay allegiance to Chief

Mkhumbi as their area was at Mbekelweni, under Chief Nkhosini. The

Times Sunday (4 August 2013) reported that the residents, all of whom
were registered voters, insisted that they would not participate in the
process under Nkiliji after EBC officials did not show up at
Ebutfongweni. They expected officers from the commission to conduct
the nominations in the area as they had done so in the past. The Times
Sunday reported they were the same residents who had previously taken
Chief Mkhumbi to court during the elections registration process saying
they had a constitutional right to register at a place of their choice.

Meanwhile, a change of a nomination centre at the last moment resulted

in more than 50 residents of Siweni, a tiny village near Mbadlane which
falls under the Malindza chiefdom, boycotting the nominations process.
The Times Sunday (4 August 2013) reported voters were angry after
being told by election officers that nominations had been moved to
Othandweni Primary School and not Siweni Care Point, as earlier

In Mzimnene, residents were unable to make nominations because they

had not been told by the EBC where they should go. The same thing
happened in June when people were unable to register to vote.
Elsewhere, equipment failures were blamed for the late opening of
nomination centres across the Lubombo region. Missing church keys
marred the nomination process at Moneni as officials from the EBC
were forced to remain in their vehicles with the voting kit, as the Free
Evangelical Assemblies Church remained closed. Church leaders said
they were notified at very short notice that the church was to be used as
a nomination centre. The Times of Swaziland (7 August 2013) reported
some people who wanted to nominate candidates were prevented from
doing so because electoral officers would not allow it, while some
names of those who were nominated were then left off the EBC’s
official list of candidates. It reported that some people who wanted to
nominate candidates could not so because they failed to get the

attention of the electoral officer. The process used required people to

gather at a meeting place, often a kraal, and wait to be called by an
electoral officer to make their nomination. At many places crowds were
large and not everyone who wanted to make a nomination was spotted
by the electoral officer.

Women were banned from being nominated to stand as a member of

parliament because they wore trousers at the nomination centre. Mana
Mavimbela, aged 18, was disqualified from putting her name forward at
Lubulini Royal Kraal. The Times of Swaziland, (7 August 2013)
reported the presiding officer Lindiwe Sukati refused to allow her to
stand because she was wearing a pair of black jean trousers and a golf
T- shirt. Mavimbela later said police forced her to lie in her statement
that she did not intend to stand for nomination. The police officers
ordered her to say that she had been joking. Eventually, Mavimbela
won a case at the High Court and the EBC was compelled to postpone
the election in her chiefdom at Lubulini to allow her to stand.

Meanwhile, Fakazile Luhlanga of Ndvwabangeni in the Mhlangatane

constituency was also not allowed permission to nominate a candidate
as she was wearing cargo pants. The Times of Swaziland (6 August
2013) reported Luhlanga saying she was told that she was dressed like a
man and would be a bad influence to the community members as they
would want to emulate her. Some chiefs across Swaziland imposed the
ban on women wearing trousers, shorts or mini-skirts at nomination
centres. Chief Petros Dvuba of Mpolonjeni in Mbabane, the kingdom’s
capital, said people who would be going to the nominations should
dress properly and show respect as it was King Mswati III’s exercise.
He told the Times of Swaziland (2 August 2013), ‘Even those who have
relaxed hair should cover their heads when going to that place.’

A chief’s headman at Ludzibini, ruled by Chief Magudvulela a former

Swazi Senator, threatened that people would be banished from their

homes if they nominated a widow for the election. Dumisani Dlamini

warned residents that if they voted for Jennifer du Pont they would be
evicted from the area. The Times Sunday (4 August 2013) reported, ‘He
warned that those who would nominate her should be prepared to
relocate to areas as distant as five chiefdoms away. Her sin was that she
attended the nominations only a few months after her husband died.’ He
said she should still be mourning her husband. The newspaper reported
du Pont did not wear standard black mourning gowns and was dressed
in a blue wrap-around dress known as sidvwashi. Enough people in the
chiefdom defied Dlamini and du Pont was duly nominated.

The credibility of the nomination process was severely damaged when

it became clear that many people who wanted to nominate candidates
were prevented from doing so; some people were nominated against the
election rules and cabinet ministers in the outgoing government who
were nominated might not have been eligible to stand. EBC Chair Chief
Gija said some nominated candidates who did not have consent letters
from their employers should have been disqualified. Speaking on state-
controlled radio, he said it was expected that public servants should
have brought with them the letters, which in turn should have been read
in front of all the voters.

There was confusion over the status of nine cabinet ministers who were
nominated. The Times of Swaziland (8 August 2013) reported they
could be disqualified from taking part in the election because they held
public office and this was not allowed under the Constitution. The
confusion was made worse because it was uncertain whether technically
the nine were still cabinet ministers. Attorney General Majahenkhaba
Dlamini told the newspaper that ministers were not supposed to stand
for nomination if they were still in office – as the nine maintained.

‘Their nomination was irregular because a Cabinet office is a public

office. If anyone can challenge their nomination in court they

(challenger) can be successful,’ the newspaper reported him saying. He

added, ‘That is why even police officers and other members of the
security forces as well as any government employee have to resign or
apply for leave of absence in order to stand for the elections because
they are in public office. They (ministers) ought to have also resigned
from office so as to be eligible to stand.’

In a major blunder some people had to nominate candidates for a

second time after the EBC erroneously combined two election districts.
When the mistake was discovered the EBC ordered the people of
Njabulweni, near Lubhuku, in the Dvokodvweni Constituency, to
nominate again. The Times of Swaziland (14 August 2013) reported that
Njabulweni and Malindza were combined for the nominations, although
they should have been separate.



The primary election was riddled with difficulties across Swaziland

with incorrect ballot papers issued, wrong results announced, campaign
laws broken, residents threatening to boycott the poll and a police riot
squad escorting ballot boxes from one polling station.

Once nominations closed it had become apparent that some names of

nominated individuals had been left off the official list of candidates.
Some candidates claimed the lists were sabotaged deliberately to stop
them taking part in the election. The problem was discovered as soon as
the EBC released the official list of candidates for the kingdom’s
primary election. The Times of Swaziland (13 August 2013) reported
candidates were ‘outraged after they either did not appear or their
names were wrongly spelt’ on the EBC list of nominations. The Times
said, ‘Some went as far as suspecting sabotage by their competitors.’

It added, ‘One of the aspiring MPs said he was the first candidate to be
nominated at his umphakatsi [chiefdom] and he was outraged when his
name did not appear on the list of nominees. He said he was confused
as candidates who were nominated after him were included on the list.
Pointing to the sensitive nature of the elections, he claimed he was
being sabotaged.’ The EBC undertook to make corrections to the lists.

The Swazi Observer (30 August 2013) reported that at Ebenezer a ballot
box had been tampered with and wrong results announced. A box was
found with its seal broken and some voting papers were missing. Some
candidates called for a re-run of the election. Six ballot papers were said
to be missing. The victorious candidate won by three votes. The EBC
admitted it had released the wrong names of poll winners at LaMgabhi.
The election organisers blamed a ‘typographical error’. A similar error
was discovered at Dlangeni.


The Times of Swaziland (23 August 2013) reported thousands of people

were turned back from polling stations as the primary elections ground
to a halt on 22 August 2013 when the EBC arranged a special day of
voting for its own staff and security forces personnel. All the polling
stations to serve the whole kingdom were allocated in the city of
Manzini, but many had no ballot papers. As many as 7,000 people had
been expected to vote. Election officers told waiting crowds to return
the next day. The EBC employed about 4,000 Swazis as elections
officers, returning officers, presiding officers and clerks. Members of
the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (the army) that employs about
3,000 officers, the Royal Swaziland Police and His Majesty’s
Correctional Services were among those who had been called to vote.

The election for the Mbabane West Constituency at Bahai and

Magwaneni polling stations had to be called off after it was discovered
the ballot papers had the picture of one candidate appearing twice at the
expense of a competitor, the Times of Swaziland (25 August 2013)
reported. When this was discovered Mangwaneni residents demanded
that the election be halted. After much confusion the EBC announced
polling would be postponed until the following day. But it could not be
established if those who had already voted would have to come back
and start afresh.

At Lubuli, Chief Mshikashika Ngcamphalala had to be brought in to

calm angry residents at the Ngcamphalala Royal Kraal after residents
complained about the reinstatement of Mana Mavimbela, the 18-year-
old woman who had been unlawfully banned from having her name put
forward as a candidate during the nominations because she was wearing
jeans at the time. On the eve of the primary election, the Swazi High
Court ruled she should be allowed to stand. The EBC then put her name
on the ballot paper even though she had not been officially nominated
and said the ballot should be postponed by one day.


At Pigg’s Peak polling stations were allowed to remain open beyond the
official closing time. The Times Sunday, (25 August 2013) reported the
elections here, ‘were full of drama which was accompanied by sporadic
fights, accusations of vote-rigging and general confusion’. The
newspaper said, ‘The elections were so chaotic such that at some point,
it was suggested that the elections should be called off and postponed to
today. This happened when the general cut-off time of 5 p.m. as set by
the EBC, elapsed. Five p.m. passed while a queue of over 2,000 people
waited outside the polling station for a chance to get inside.’ The
elections continued ‘way into the night’, the Times Sunday reported.

The Times Sunday reported, ‘The Pigg’s Peak elections lived up to its
billing of being controversial as there were sporadic incidents from rival
teams, leading campaigns and manhandling each other but the presence
of the police calmed the morning session of the voting process which
remained peaceful.’ The newspaper said some voters appeared
intoxicated and others wore t-shirts with campaign slogans. Despite
breaking the law, they were not disturbed by the police. At Lubuli,
residents protested after police took ballot boxes away from the polling
station at Lubuli High School once voting had ended. Usually the count
took place at the same place as the polling. State riot police the
Operational Support Services Unit escorted a police car away from the
polling station to avoid toyi-toyi-ing residents. The Times Sunday (25
August 2013) reported that the turnout of voters was very poor in some
areas. It said that officers at the Mbabane East Polling station at
Woodlands High School, Sidvwashini, ‘were lazing around with no one
to attend to’.

There were many allegations of corruption. About 1,000 people in a

chiefdom at Ngonini in Nhlambeni voted although only 300 actually
lived there. Residents complained to the EBC that the winning
candidate had brought supporters to vote for him from outside the area.
There were similar complaints that people from outside the chiefdoms

had been allowed to vote from across Swaziland, including at Vuvulane

in the Mhlume constituency.

Other complaints made on social media and newspapers in Swaziland

included ballot papers having incorrect names of candidates and voters
turning up at polling stations but being denied the chance to vote. The
polling station at Mhlangatane was said to have opened for only four
hours. At Nceka, Siphofaneni, it was alleged that winning candidates
visited homesteads ahead of the poll to distribute salt and sugar to
residents who were told who to vote for.

The Times of Swaziland (28 August 2013) reported losing candidates

saying that voters were transported free of charge from outside the
chiefdom to cast their votes. Some people who were not from the area
ended up running away and abandoned the voting upon being
questioned by the police.

The Times of Swaziland (28 August 2013) also reported that at

Kwaluseni 1,000 people were turned back from the polling stations. The
former Kwaluseni Member of Parliament Sibusiso Mabhanisi Dlamini
said 7,400 people had registered to vote but only 2,700 did so. In a
letter of complaint to the EBC, he said voters were frustrated because
they were turned back after queuing for about six hours after walking 5
km to the polling stations.

Following the primary election, many complaints were sent to the EBC,
spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini confirmed to local media. One came from
youths at Msunduza, East Mbabane, who delivered a petition
complaining that EBC officers had closed polling station gates at 4:50
p.m. even though the voting process had started late.

In a separate case, the Moneni Royal Kraal wrote to the EBC to request
the primary election in the chiefdom be held again because some

candidates allegedly bribed textile workers to vote for them. At least

three textile firms in the industrial town of Matsapha were accused of
transporting their workers by bus to the town of Pigg’s Peak where they
were paid E400, the equivalent of almost a week’s wages, by a
candidate for their votes.

The Times of Swaziland (29 August 2013) reported textile workers had
‘confessed’ to the newspaper. It quoted one saying, ‘Everything was
arranged by our supervisor. She told us that one nominee in Pigg’s Peak
has asked for our votes and that in return the candidate would pay us
E400 each. Hearing such an offer, we did not hesitate but registered to
vote in Pigg’s Peak. On Saturday, [the day of the primary election]
transport was organised and we were driven to Pigg’s Peak where we
voted. We were each paid E400.’

There was widespread ‘vote buying’ by distributing food in the run up

to the election. The Times of Swaziland (22 April 2013) interviewed
women in Nhlambeni who openly admitted, ‘that due to hunger, they
would not hesitate to cast their vote for people who will campaign using
food’. One woman told the newspaper, ‘There is no way I would turn
my back on food donations and of course I would not tell the world
about it, but such a person would have my vote because my children
and I are starving.’ Another woman said, ‘People are hungry and if they
are promised food, it is highly likely that they will vote for that
particular person.’

The newspaper reported allegations that sitting members of the House

of Assembly and cabinet ministers were giving away food for votes.
The Minister of Labour and Social Security Lutfo Dlamini gave away
450 food hampers to elderly people in his constituency. After the
hampers were given out attendees of the charity event were treated to a
free meal made up of pap and beef. Dlamini, who was also Ndzingeni


Member of Parliament, denied that he was campaigning ahead of the

election. It was, he said, part of the constituency’s charity programme.

The Swazi Observer reported that police stopped a party for Minister pf
Health Benedict Xaba to campaign for election as MP for Shiselweni II
Inkhundla. The function at Edwaleni High School had attracted about
2,000 residents who were to enjoy performances by award winning
gospel group Ncandweni Christ Ambassadors. Rival candidates
complained to police that Xaba was about to launch his election

The Times of Swaziland reported Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth

Affairs Hlobisile Ndlovu distributed E100 bank notes to potential voters
in the small town of Pigg’s Peak in her constituency – this in a kingdom
where about 70 per cent of the population earned less than E10 a day.
Ndlovu was reported to have handed out the money to people drinking
outside a bar. She denied she was ‘campaigning’. The Times of
Swaziland reported her saying, ‘As a representative of the Pigg’s Peak
constituency, it is my duty to give money or help those who come
seeking help.’

The Times of Swaziland reported Rodgers Mamba, Minister of

Tinkhundla Administration and Development, donated 600 blankets to
elderly people in his constituency. At a public event, his supporters also
offered his constituents money to formally nominate Mamba to stand
for election.

This bribery was not unusual. In a report on the previous election in

2008, The Commonwealth Expert Team that observed the election
reported at the time, ‘During the voter registration exercise, and also
prior to the primary and secondary elections, there were reports of
intimidation and bribery of prospective voters by politicians. Politicians


allegedly also threatened voters to either register or lose certain benefits

like scholarships, food aid, health facilities and job opportunities.’

Even Swaziland’s Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini said that

candidates in the election bribed voters to win parliamentary seats.
Dlamini said people declared publicly that they were given money to
vote. The Swazi Observer (25 September 2008) quoted him saying,
‘Giving people money is against the law and the candidates know that
but they continue defying the law’. At the time many defeated
candidates in the election took out court applications which complained
that their competitors had paid voters.

After the election, the Times of Swaziland, (30 September 2008) in an

editorial comment, said, ‘We no longer have an election; we have a
selection of those who were able to buy their way into power.’ It went
on to say that the new MPs would be ripe for bribing. ‘From what we
hear, corrupt MPs are there for the taking as they seek to recoup their
“expenditure” on the election campaign. None of the MPs we have
spoken to wish to come on record for reasons we only see as putting
themselves up for the financial rewards on offer. What a shame.
Individuals have pledged their first salary, plots and other gains to the
MPs. The whole process has simply gone rotten and can best be
described as a sham.’

Candidates know they can bribe their way to office, because in

Swaziland voters are only allowed to elect individuals to parliament:
they cannot vote for political parties. That means candidates do not
compete against one another in terms of what they could do if they were
elected to parliament. This is simply because one single MP working
alone cannot achieve anything once elected. It is only by working in
consort with other MPs that polices can be put forward to parliament
and accepted. That is the value of political parties.


Campaigning at the primary election is illegal in Swaziland, but the law

was continually broken, although police reportedly tried to clampdown
on public gatherings, social parties and food distributions. There were
about two weeks between nominations being received and the primary
election and during this time allegedly illegal activities reported
included the distribution of water, clothes and food at a church
gathering at Nhlambeni. Elsewhere, residents from Ngwemphisi
reported former MP Veli Shongwe for allegedly campaigning in a
community meeting. He was said to have promised residents that he
would give them free electricity and build boreholes and a massive
water tank that would service the area and neighbouring communities.
The Times of Swaziland (13 August 2013) reported police were called
at Nhlambeni when a South African organisation donated 100 bags of
rice to residents. The donation was suspected by some residents to be a
campaign strategy by former Nhlambeni MP Frans Dlamini.

A ‘vote for a woman’ campaign that was to be held at Ntondozi had to

be cancelled amid fears that those participating in it could be arrested.
The meeting was to mobilise women from Ntondozi to vote for those
women who had entered the elections race so that they would have a
female member of parliament. It was called off on the advice of the

Political parties are banned from taking part in the election, but that
does not stop party members standing as individuals. The Swaziland
Democratic Party (SWADEPA) reported that some of its members who
had been nominated for the election were being scrutinised by state
security forces. Secretary General Archie Sayed, who was himself
standing for election, told the Times of Swaziland (12 August 2013) his
party would not disclose publicly the names of its members who were
nominated in order to protect them from any possible harassment by
state security forces. ‘We cannot reveal the names of our members until
further notice. This is for security reasons. We are being monitored. We

have received reports from our members that they are being monitored
by state security agents,’ he said.

The European Union Election Experts Mission (EEM), which observed

the 2013 election reported that the primary election ‘was generally
peaceful, orderly and transparent despite some reported localized
incidents that marred the general trend: an ill-prepared early voting for
members of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) and
security forces, misprinted ballots and a consequent postponement of
voting, arguments between voters and police, accusations of vote-
rigging and -buying in one chiefdom and flared tempers in others.
However, based on the polling stations observed and the general
climate in the country, the election seemed far from the “fiasco”
reported by the print media.’

It reported that polling stations were often inadequate for the numbers
of people wanting to vote. ‘The non-technical conflicts were certainly
due in the majority of cases to the excessive number of voters per
polling station. In all polling stations visited and seen from the roads
there were huge lines of voters all day through the voting time from 7
a.m. to 5 p.m. but voters were in most cases patient when enduring the
delays and the sun overhead. The polling stations were well organized
although not prepared to receive in some cases almost 3,000 voters,
regardless the high rate of abstention verified in the polling stations
observed, from 40 to 50 percent. Most of them were set up in school
classes, and the election officials kept the voters outside waiting for
their turn to vote; when voters were allowed to line inside, the generally
narrow spaces turned the polling station into overcrowded sites prone
for arguments and disorganization. To guarantee a smooth and orderly
voting and manage the large number of voters, the polling stations were
generally staffed with a substantial number of election officials, a
minimum of eight and sometimes twice as much, which also contribute
for overcrowding.’

It added, ‘The EBC conducted the elections in a generally organized

and timely manner, despite some shortcomings like a lack of database
computers in some polling stations, late arrival of electoral material and
failure to cross-check the pictures and names of candidates in the ballots
for the Bucopho nominees at one chiefdom.’

It went on, ‘Polling stations were set up on time in most of the cases but
not always on the place established (a polling station in Kukhanueni
was moved to another location after the discovery of a suspected
substance sprayed in the premises). Arguments about the precise
location and jurisdiction of a small chiefdom in Ebutfongweni also kept
many residents out of the polls. The setup and design of the polling
stations not always guaranteed the secrecy of the vote. In one polling
station visited by the EEM the voters’ preferences were easily seen by
any inside bystander. In general, the election officials moved the voter
lines with efficiency but in some cases they were overwhelmed by their
huge numbers.

‘Voting was also delayed in some instances by the insistence of

presiding officers to hand the ballots to voters one each time making the
voter go back and forth to vote (a method which didn’t avoid one voter
to misplace the ballot in a ballot box). It took between nine and 12
minutes for a voter to complete the cycle. After checking the biometric
voter card, the polling official double-checked the card using a reader of
a database computer; from there, wrongly because it should be after
voting, the voter had his/her finger inked –a process which might be
eliminated since there are enough checks to avoid double voting – and
handed one or three ballots (depending on the polling station). Next,
s/he would mark with an “X” the picture of a candidate, the only
identification besides the name underneath. There were quite a few
numbers of spoilt ballots which indicates a good familiarity of the voter
with the system. For these elections, the EBC implemented the

recommendations made by international observers in the past elections

of 2008 and used transparent ballot boxes. Also, the electoral
management decided to have the counting process immediately after the
closing of voting instead of having the police to safeguard the ballot
boxes overnight and do the counting the day after.

‘Counting took several hours due to the large number of votes.’



This was the final round of the long election process. Election observers
reported an improvement in the efficiency of the conduct of the polling
compared to the primary election. But the vote was marred by
accusations of corruption, vote rigging and police violence.

Police ‘brutally’ stopped a peaceful march after voters protested the

result at Gege in the Shiselweni region. The Times Sunday (29
September 2013) reported more than 400 residents marched around the
constituency. Police stopped them and the newspaper reported, ‘They
told them to disperse and counted up to 10. Thereafter, they fired
teargas canisters and attacked the residents with batons. They ran helter-
skelter as police brutally stopped a peaceful protest march. At the end
there were seven people who were arrested and charged with the crime
of Disturbing Public Order. This happened after armed to the teeth
police who freely brandished guns, attacked the marching residents and
beat them up.’

The newspaper went on, ‘Drama unfolded as they chased them to the
mountains, found about a kilometre away, and after failing to apprehend
them there they regrouped and went to their homes to pick those they
suspected to have participated in the march. When dispersing the
residents, police officers said the march was illegal because the
residents did not have a permission to participate in the event.’

Walter Dlamini, a Times Sunday senior photojournalist, narrowly

escaped being shot when a policeman pointed a gun at his face. He had
been taking pictures of police officers ‘who were mercilessly beating a
protestor’, the newspaper reported.

Voters objected that only a minority of the eligible voters voted for
Mbongiseni Malinga. Out of 4 651 people who voted, only 1,536 voted

for Malinga and this meant 3,115 did not want him as their MP. But he
was the lawful winner because Swaziland uses the first-past-the-post
system. They also protested that the voter verification equipment failed
in at least two polling stations which happened to have the majority of
voters. This allowed people from outside the constituency the chance to

Police and a battalion of soldiers were called to the count at Lubulini

High School, Lubulini, when voters hurled stones at each other. Some
sustained injuries on the chest and cheeks. The fight broke out after
claims of vote rigging. The Times Sunday (22 September 2013)
reported, ‘Fears for election rigging were caused by election officers
who ordered the counting of votes to be conducted at the youth centre.
This did not go down well with other voters who questioned the logic
for voting at a place where the electric power system was always faulty.
They demanded that the counting of votes be done at Lubulini High
School. They said ballots disappeared in the previous elections when
the counting of votes was conducted at the youth centre.’

The Weekend Observer (21 September, 2013) reported ‘chaos’ at

Msunduza where police officers drove voters out of the polling station,
they said, to try calm down a war between aspiring candidates and those
who lost during the primary elections. Aspiring Member of Parliament
Esther Dlamini accused her former competitors of trying to hijack
voters to vote for a candidate of their choice. Police ordered all those
who had voted to leave the polling station. There were concerns that the
ballot box at Msunduza was not being kept securely and could be
tampered with as it was transferred between vehicles.

Four candidates who lost the elections in the Nkhaba Constituency

lodged complaints with the EBC, the Times of Swaziland (23 September
2013) reported. It said the winner allegedly broke the law and
procedures of the elections by collecting funds from South Africa and

bribing voters. They also alleged during the counting of the votes, the
procedure of stating or declaring the number of voters from each polling
station was not followed.

The Swazi News (21 September 2013) reported Some voters at

Shiselweni II claimed they were intimidated by former Minister of
Health and aspiring MP Benedict Xaba. Xaba was removed from the
voting lines by angry voters who called the police. He was said to have
been trying to solicit votes. On the same day, the newspaper reported at
least 250 voters refused to vote at Nkiliji because they wanted to vote at
Nswaceni, under Ekukhanyeni Inkhundla. They were disgruntled
because they had lost a High Court case where they challenged the
constituency boundaries and wanted the EBC to restart the nomination
and election process. Voters at Mliba high school polling station
threatened to beat up the presiding officer because of a delay in
checking their names. The Swazi News (21 September 2013) reported
names were checked manually instead of by computer.

Nine people including an 85-year-old woman were taken to hospital

after a stampede at the polling station at Lomahasha high school in the
Lomahasha constituency. The Weekend Observer (21 September 2013)
said it happened when the polling station opened. Following delays in
the voting process during the primary elections, people arrived much
earlier than the starting time, with the intention of casting their votes
early. The newspaper reported, ‘According to a witness, chaos erupted
when a community police who was manning the gate suddenly opened
it, allowing the close to a thousand people access into the polling station
at a random manner. This resulted in some of the people, mainly the
elderly, falling onto the ground while others were rushing to be the first
on the queue.’

Tempers flared at Kwaluseni primary school in the Kwaluseni

Constituency following a showdown between two aspiring members of

parliament Purine Bhembe and Sibusiso Gwebu. The duo together with
Mkhosi Dlamini, were the only nominees for the Parliament seat in the
constituency. The Swazi News (21 September 2013) reported there was
drama when Bhembe started accusing her rival of intimidating her
potential voters during the secondary elections.

The European Union Election Experts Mission (EEM) which observed

the 2013 election in its report described the secondary election as
‘peaceful, orderly and transparent’ and said the EBC seemed ‘to be
better prepared for election day than during the primary, when voters
experienced the misprint of ballot papers, huge lines at polling stations
and postponement of voting in some polling stations. This time voting
ran generally smooth in the polling stations visited by the EEM, and
reported irregularities were mainly related to lack of material (many
polling stations didn’t receive the electronic readers to check the voters’
cards), inadequate setup of voting booths and use of different voting
procedures. There was a repetition of the long lines in some polling
stations but, in general, voters exercised their right in an expeditiously
and organized manner.

‘The lines were more a consequence of the excessive number voters at

certain polling stations –in some cases more than 2,000– than of interest
in participating in the election. The turnout was higher than expected in
the polling stations visited by the EEM although running low around 50
percent and with many polling stations empty of voters by midday. It
was feared that many voters would ignore the election once their
candidates were defeated in the primary, when participation seemed
much lower than what was portrayed by the press, the monarchy and
government officials.

It added, ‘The polling stations opened mostly on time at 7 a.m. and the
number of polling staff, voting booths and ballot boxes was increased,
sometimes in exaggeration like one polling station in the constituency

of Motshane, region of Hhohho, which showed 21 election officials.

The presiding officers used different procedures for voting, issuing the
two ballot papers to voters at the same time or one at a time making the
voter to go back and forth to the voting booth. Despite the reliable and
safe biometric registration of voters, Swaziland still inks the voters’
fingers to avoid double voting, an unnecessary procedure vis-à-vis its
benefits; a female voter refused to ink her finger alleging allergic health
problems and a Rastafarian alleged religious principles to avoid inking.
There were some incidents reported involving voters who refused to
vote due to the location of polling stations out of what they alleged to
be their chiefdom. Also the EEM witnessed confusion in a polling
station which was split up into two with almost no advance notice,
surprising the voters who, however, were transported to the new
location by vans hired by the EBC.

‘If the climate of voting was tranquil and generally organized the same
couldn’t be said of the counting process, which started many hours after
the closing of the polling stations at 6 p.m. The ballot boxes had to be
taken to a central place in each constituency where all the ballots were
shuffled, sorted and counted. On top of the long distances sometimes
between the polling station and the constituency counting centre,
election officials and candidates wasted long time discussing
procedures, like when the ballots cast during the early voting held four
days before should be counted. In general, counting started three or four
hours after closing and many centres had not finished in the early hours
of morning the day after.’



Only four in ten of the people entitled to vote in Swaziland’s 2013

national election did so. The percentage turnout was lower than the
previous election in 2008. It took the EBC more than three years to
formally release the statistics. It announced winners at each
constituency promptly after the poll ended, but never publicly released
the full voting figures that each candidate in the election received.

The EEM in its report on the election commented on how important it

was to release full results, ‘It is part of an electoral process the
knowledge of how many voters participated in the election vis-à-vis the
number of registered voters and the number of spoilt, invalid and blank
votes. The lack of such information feeds the speculations that the EBC
might be avoiding such announcements to evade contradicting the
King’s perception of a highly participative electorate.’

The low turnout cast doubts on claims by King Mswati that his subjects
support what he calls his kingdom’s ‘unique democracy’. Immediately
before the national election in September 2013, King Mswati
announced that the political system in Swaziland that had until then
been called tinkhundla would in future be known as ‘Monarchical
Democracy.’ He said this would be a partnership between himself and
the people.

The supporters of King Mswati saw the election as a way for the Swazi
people to endorse the King’s version of democracy. At the same time
prodemocracy groups urged people to boycott the election. The EBC
reported than 251,278 people voted from the 414,704 who registered. It
also reported that 600,000 Swazis were entitled to register. That meant
that only 41.8 percent of those entitled to vote did so in 2013. The 2013
vote compares to the 47.4 percent (189,559) of the 400,000 people
entitled to vote in the previous election in 2008 who actually did so. It

is impossible to tell whether the low turnout in the 2013 election was in
support of the boycott call by prodemocracy advocates. It could easily
have been because ordinary Swazi people saw no point in voting as it
would change nothing in their lives.

Six of eight government ministers standing in the House of Assembly

election were defeated. Of the 55 members of the House standing for re-
election, 43 lost. It looked like it might have been a massive vote of no
confidence in the outgoing parliament, but it is impossible to make
conclusions of the results because, in Swaziland all public debate of
politics is prohibited. Put simply, there is no way the question can be

According to the Swaziland Constitution, all MPs are elected as

individuals to serve their local constituency. This meant that at the
election candidates could only make promises (many empty) about the
‘development’ they would bring to their constituents if elected. There
was no debate about which social, political or economic policies a new
government should pursue. Voters do not choose a government: that is
the prerogative of the King. He is not obliged to choose his ministers
from among those people selected by his subjects.

Shortly after the election, King Mswati named two princes, a princess
and three members of his own Dlamini clan among his 10 appointees to
the House of Assembly. He also appointed six members of his family to
the Senate, where he picks 20 members. He then appointed another 16
members of his Royal Family to top political jobs; effectively carving
up public life in the kingdom in his favour.

There were nine princess and princesses and a further seven from the
family Dlamini in the 24-strong Liqoqo (the Swaziland National
Council), the most powerful of the committees that advises the King.
There were four princes and princesses and four Dlaminis in the

Ludzidzimi Council, which advises the Queen Mother. The Border

Restoration Committee which exists to try to get South Africa to give
some of its territory to King Mswati had three princes and princesses
and five Dlaminis among its 14 members. King Mswati also
reappointed Barnabas Dlamini as Prime Minister.

In its report on the election the EEM made much of how the kingdom’s
absolute monarchy undermined democracy, concluding the ‘main
principles for a democratic state are not in place’ in Swaziland.



Swaziland has a relatively small media market. Most of the broadcast

media are government controlled. Swazi TV and the radio stations
under the umbrella of the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information
Services (SBIS) are in effect departments of the Swazi civil service. All
news broadcast on these channels is under the control of the
government. There is one independent television channel, Channel
Swazi, and although it is independent of the state, its journalistic policy
is to support the King.

There are two newspaper groups in Swaziland: the Observer Group,

owned by the conglomerate Tibiyo TakaNgwane that runs businesses
and investments on behalf of the King. The Media Institute of Southern
Africa has reported that the group’s newspapers, the daily Swazi
Observer and the Weekend Observer were viewed as ‘state-controlled
newspapers’. MISA, a media freedom advocacy group, in its 2012
review of media freedom in the kingdom described the Swazi Observer
as a ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal family’.

The other newspaper group is the Times of Swaziland owned by the

Loffler family based in Namibia. It publishes the daily Times of
Swaziland, the Swazi News (published Saturday) and the Times of
Swaziland Sunday. These newspapers are the only major news sources
in the kingdom free of government control. While independent of
government the Times newspapers nonetheless exercises strict self-
censorship, especially when reporting the activities of the King. On
numerous occasions Times of Swaziland newspapers have
misrepresented international reports on the political situation in the
kingdom in order to protect the name of King Mswati. (Swazi Media
Commentary, 11 March 2013).


One independent monthly pro-democracy comment magazine, the

Nation magazine, manages to continue publishing despite government
opposition and a small circulation.

Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the

press, the King may waive these rights at his discretion, and the
government often restricts these rights. The prime minister and other
officials constantly warn journalists that publishing material regarding
political issues or criticising the royal family could be construed as acts
of sedition of treason.

In a pluralist, multiparty democracy it is generally recognised that at

election time the news media play an important role in informing the
public about the intended policies of the political parties. They offer
space for the policies to be discussed and thereby allow the electorate to
make rational decisions on who to vote for. A range of ‘pseudo-events’
are organised by the media and / or the political parties to facilitate this.
Typically, political parties hold media conferences to announce and
discuss major policies they would pursue if elected. A number of other
events, including rallies, speeches, visits to shopping malls, workplaces
and ad hoc ‘photo opportunities’ take place. Newspapers and
broadcasting organisation interrogate political party leaders and in some
countries debates among party leaders are broadcast.

These activities are typical in democracies at election time. But,

Swaziland is not a democracy and none of the above applies to the
kingdom. Very little of what would be recognised in a democracy as
‘election campaigning’ takes place in Swaziland. Political parties are
banned and candidates are expected, if elected, to represent only the
interest of their local constituents. The consequence of this is that there
is no debate about which social, political or economic policies a new
government should pursue. The people in Swaziland are not appointing
a government: that is the prerogative of King Mswati.

Generally, political discussion in Swaziland is severely restricted and in

the months running up to the election police and state security forces
broke up a number of meetings designed to discuss the lack of
democracy in the kingdom and to garner support for a boycott of the
election. (Swazi Media Commentary, 21 August 2013). Consequently,
the media in Swaziland only reported the process of the election. In the
2013 election, typically, this meant they covered the registration of
voters, the nomination process, and the numbers of people turning out
at the primary and secondary elections.

Campaigning by candidates is outlawed until the results of the primary

elections are announced. Although there was evidence that this law was
not consistently enforced it meant that election campaigning ‘proper’
only took place between 24 August and 19 September 2013.

Broadcast media severely restricted coverage of the election and a

directive from SBIS restricted access to the airwaves by candidates who
had to be approved by the EBC before they were allowed on air. (Swazi
Observer, 16 September 2013). Casual broadcasting audiences might be
forgiven for not knowing an election was taking place.

The two newspaper groups gave extensive coverage to the election in

terms of space, but it was limited in scope. By far the most important
aspect of the election for the newspapers was to demonstrate to readers
the election’s legitimacy. After previous elections, official election
observers reported on deficiencies in the Swazi political system.
Prominent on the list of concerns were the banning of political parties,
the lack of power the parliament has and the autocracy of the Swazi
monarchy. (Swazi Media Commentary, 29 May 2013).

These democratic deficiencies are constantly mentioned by

prodemocracy advocates as evidence of the need to change. The Swazi
Government responds to such criticism by saying that the Swazi people

love their King and support the present political system, which its
supporters like to label, ‘a unique democracy’. However, no detailed
independent research has ever been taken to ascertain the true feelings
of the population in these matters and the state’s suppression of political
discussion in the kingdom means we cannot know.

The newspaper and broadcasting houses in Swaziland support the

status-quo and it was an imperative for them to continually show
support for the political system of tinkhundla / monarchical democracy.
There was no subtlety in this. To the newspapers it was the duty of the
people to support the election process because it was the King’s will.
On the eve of the secondary election, an editorial in the King’s own
newspaper, the Swazi Observer put it this way:

It is the measure of the faith of the Swazi people on their system,

and on their right to choose their candidate and usher them
straight to parliament. This remains the eighth wonder of the

…. As His Majesty has said countless times, we need to vote for

the right people tomorrow. The right people, he has advised, are
the selfless individuals who can transform the fortunes of this
country by bringing change. (Swazi Observer, 19 September,

Earlier in the election process, the Times of Swaziland reported Chief

Maloyi of Ensingweni, who told his subjects it was compulsory for
them to vote in the elections.

‘He said participating in the upcoming national elections was

compulsory for them because it was the King’s order that the
country should go to elections this year.


‘He said he had heard that some people thought that registering
and participating in the elections was by choice.

‘“I have been told that some of you thought that participating in
the upcoming national elections is for those who like it. That is
not true; it is for every Swazi citizen. The only people who have a
choice of participating are foreigners, not you,” he said.’ (Times
of Swaziland, 13 June 2013).

Newspapers confused readers about the nature of the elections:

constantly claiming that they were to elect a ‘government’, when they
were not. The media extolled the virtue of tinkhundla / monarchical
democracy, emphasising that this ‘unique democracy’ placed the
individual non-aligned candidate at the centre of the political process,
but at the same time asserted that in some never-defined way that these
individuals would also work collectively once elected to parliament and
form a government. In fact, King Mswati appoints government
ministers and he is not obliged to choose from among the elected
members of parliament when doing so. (See for example: Times of
Swaziland, 27 August 2013; Weekend Observer, 14 September, 2013).

The media did at times criticise the efficiency of the election process.
Mostly, this was the shortcomings of the EBC which ran the election.
The criticisms were always framed in terms of the EBC commissioners
letting down the King by their inefficiencies. No mention was made of
the fact that the King appointed the EBC and one his half-brothers
chaired the commission, even though, in terms of the requirements of
the Swaziland Constitution, he did not have the credentials to do so.
(See for example: Swazi News, 14 September 2013; Times of Swaziland,
4 September 2013; Swazi Observer, 26 August 2013; Times Sunday, 1
September 2013; Weekend Observer, 1 June 2013).


But, by the day of the secondary election both newspaper groups

uncritically reported the EBC’s assertion that all would be well on the
day of the secondary elections. (See for example: Swazi Observer, 19
September 2013).

Newspaper coverage of the campaign itself was sparse. Almost

certainly a lack of resources prevented journalists from travelling to all
55 constituencies across the kingdom. However, in the coverage they
did, they showed bias towards favoured candidates. This meant that
they would extol virtues of their favourites, but make no mention of the
other candidates standing against them. A typical case was Lutfo
Dlamini, the outgoing Minister of Labour and Social Security who had
also held other posts in government, and is known to be a close personal
friend of the Queen Mother. He received fawning coverage in the
newspapers and many constituents were quoted in his support. (See for
example: Swazi Observer, 26 August 2013; Times of Swaziland, 27
August 2013). However, in Swaziland, the support of the newspapers is
not enough: Dlamini lost at the secondary election. (Times Sunday, 22
September 2013; Times of Swaziland, 25 September 2013).

Observers, even from within the local media industry, have for many
years reported that journalists in Swaziland have low capacity and this
was notable during the election coverage. (Swazi Media Commentary,
23 August 2007). Even outside of the election period, media in
Swaziland are partisan, inaccurate and generally unprofessional and
they are turning into an irrelevant vehicle in public discourse because
journalists lack credibility. Content in the Swazi newspaper is
compromised by a lack of professionalism in writing and editing.
Interesting news stories are watered down by the incomprehensible way
they are written, leaving the reader confused and bewildered. Comment
articles expose readers to un-researched opinion pieces that have
compromised journalistic standards and some journalists willingly work
as propagandists, especially at the SBIS radio.

All the above was in evidence in the election coverage. Journalists

sensationalised news and often reported as facts, pure conjecture. The
day after the secondary election the Weekend Observer, for example,
reported, ‘about 400,000 voters braved the scorching sun and went
straight to the voting centres to cast their ballots as early as possible’.
(Weekend Observer, 20 September 2013). This was clearly untrue: the
total number of people registered to vote in Swaziland at the election
was 414,704. If 400,000 had voted, the turnout would have been about
96 percent, an extraordinary figure for an election. However, the real
story about the election turnout is that the EBC has never released the
full results.

The newspapers made the same mistake after the primary election,
reporting it as a ‘success’, with ‘overwhelming’ turnouts. (Swazi
Observer, 26 August 2013; Times of Swaziland, 29 August 2013). But,
no complete statistics for voter turnout at the primaries was available to
the media when these stories were written, so the reporting was
probably based on a mixture of speculation and wishful-thinking.

After the secondary election, newspapers were unanimous that the

people had voted ‘for change’. This was based on information that six
of eight government ministers standing in the election were defeated
and of the 55 members of the House standing for re-election, 43 lost.
Newspapers reported the election result as if it were a vote of no-
confidence against the out-going government. (Swazi Observer, 23
September 2013; Times of Swaziland, 23 September 2013). But, they
provided no evidence for this. The media in Swaziland want it both
ways. On the one hand they say that under Swaziland’s tinkhundla /
monarchical democracy system of government the people elect MPs as
individuals who support their constituencies and on the other they say
the people have elected a group of MPs who they believe collectively
will bring them change.

In fact, we cannot know what the people want, because there is no place
in Swaziland for them to freely debate the strengths and weaknesses of
the present system of governance and discuss possible alternatives.
Certainly, the media do not provide that space. (Swazi Media
Commentary, 24 September 2013). No media outlet in the kingdom has
suggested that if people have voted for change it might be a change in
the political system and a move to democracy that they seek.

The 2013 election was the first election in which social media was used
extensively to share information and comment. To counter the
restriction imposed on information in Swaziland, a number of social
media sites had emerged in the years ahead of the election. In many
cases the sites describe themselves in some way as disseminating
information and / or commentary that advocates for change in
Swaziland. Among the organisations with a Facebook and / or Twitter
presence were the Swaziland Solidarity Network, Swaziland United
Democratic Front, Swaziland Diaspora Platform, Swaziland Communist
Party and the People’s United Democratic Party.

In addition, Swazi Media Commentary (the publishers of this report) is

a blogsite, independent of any political faction, which carries
information and comment in support of human rights in Swaziland. Its
posts are also carried by the news aggregator, AllAfrica dot com. None
of the sites are run-full time in opposition to the mainstream media in
Swaziland. All of them appear to have relatively small, but seemingly
highly committed, participants as originators and / or readers.

During the election period, in contrast to the mainstream media, the

social network sites carried material in opposition to the political status
quo, critiquing the tinkhundla / monarchical democracy system and
advocating for democracy. Social media popularised the term
‘selections’ as an alternative to ‘elections’ to describe the political

process taking place. Some, but not all, social media sites also
advocated for a boycott of the election because political parties were
banned from taking part, the parliament that was selected had no power
and King Mswati ruled as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Social media probably had limited influence within Swaziland. The

number of people using the Internet in Swaziland at the time of the
2013 election was low at around 7 percent of the population. This was
partly because the cost of telecommunications in the kingdom was too
expensive for most Swazis to afford (and still is) and that many Swazi
people did not have digital media literacy skills. In May 2012 there
were estimated to be 63,760 Facebook users in Swaziland.

It is impossible to measure the impact these sites had on the political

process, but there is at least some evidence to suggest they had
influence on international perceptions of the election. Major figures in
the opposition movement were used by international media
organisations as witnesses and commentators to election events in
Swaziland. The international media were not very interested in the
voting in Swaziland until the eve of the secondary election. This was
not surprising as little about the kingdom gets reported at other times.
Swaziland has no mineral wealth to speak of and is not strategically
placed and is therefore of no interest to developed countries.

This does change when something the media considers ‘exotic’ happens
in Swaziland. By a coincidence one such thing happened in the run up
to the election when it was announced that the 45-year-old King Mswati
would take an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant as his next bride.
International media could not agree whether this was to be the King’s
14th or 15th wife. This is excusable since in Swaziland the number of
wives the King has is considered a state secret and something the Swazi
people are not allowed to know. In Swaziland it is considered ‘un-
Swazi’ to openly discuss the King’s polygamy. More media outlets

across the world covered news of the King’s bride than covered the

The election was of little interest also, because, unlike in democracies,

no power could change hands as a result of the voting. Political parties
are banned from taking part and no government was being elected.
Even if all 55 of the sitting members of parliament were replaced,
power would still rest with the King.

However, major international and regional media organisations,

including the BBC, Aljazeera, Associated Press, AFP, and the
Independent group in South Africa did publish at least one story each as
a preview to the election. Unlike the media in Swaziland they
highlighted the opposition view that the election was a fraud, that no
government was to be elected and that power would stay with the King.
Echoing social media sites, some international media described the
process as ‘selections’, rather than ‘elections’.

The AFP news agency said the election was, ‘dismissed by critics as a
rubber stamp for King Mswati III’s absolute rule’. It quoted a recently-
released report from Freedom House, a human rights group, saying,
‘Although the Swazi government boasts trappings of a modern state, the
monarch, King Mswati III, chooses and controls all significant office
bearers. These must obey his commands at all times.’ (AFP, 20
September 2013).

Aljazeera TV reported, ‘Mswati holds ultimate sway over the

government: he can veto new laws, dissolve parliament and may not be
sued or charged.’ (Aljazeera, 20 September 2013).

The Associated Press (AP) news agency quoted the Southern African
People’s Solidarity Network, a civil society group, which described the
polls as a ploy to delay genuine democracy. ‘There is no political

change we can expect as a result of these elections,’ Dr Collins

Magalasi, general secretary of the network, told AP. ‘The traditional
system in place supports the King.’ (AP, 20 September 2013).

Closer to home, the media in South Africa, Swaziland’s closest

neighbour and political and economic ally, also highlighted the non-
democratic nature of the election. Business Day reported, ‘While the
Swazi system of tinkhundla allows for political parties, candidates for
parliament are allowed to stand for election only in an individual
capacity and are banned from campaigning. Rising pro-democracy
voices are being heard on the sideline but that is where they will remain
for now, as the nonparty elections will not change King Mswati’s
position as ruler.’ (Business Day, 20 September 2013).

The Independent group of newspapers in South Africa reported,

‘Africa’s only unelected national leader, King Mswati III, will remain
firmly in charge whatever the outcome of Friday’s parliamentary
elections.’(Independent online, 20 September 2013). The Mail and
Guardian, Johannesburg, reported, ‘Regardless of who gets into
Parliament, King Mswati III – who inherited the throne from his father,
King Sobhuza II, in 1986 – holds all the power.’(Mail and Guardian,
20 September 2013).



The 2013 election did not end with the announcement of the winners.
The Swaziland High Court was kept busy with a number of claims of
malpractice. What follows in this section is an edited version of the
official EBC election report.

The EBC stated a total of 31 election cases were brought before the
High Court for determination by prospective and actual candidates for
election. The number reflected a decline from the total number of 48
contested elections that were brought before the High Court for
determination in the 2008 general elections.

Hhohho and Manzini regions had the highest number of contested

elections. Each region had ten cases and one case was shared by the
Hhohho and Manzini regions because it involved litigants from both
regions. Hhohho and Manzini was followed by the Shiselweni region
with nine cases, and the Lubombo region with three cases.

Two pre-election cases were brought to the High Court for

determination and decision of the court. The first case was that of two
registered voters who sought an order of the High Court directing the
Secretary for the Swazi Nation to produce and make available a copy of
the report for the Sibaya that converged in August 2012 at Ludzidzini
cattle byre. The application was filed with the High Court in July 2013
and the EBC reported, the matter was still pending at the time of
completion of its report (2017).

The second matter was that of a voter who alleged that she was
discriminated by the Presiding Officer because of her dress code (she
was wearing pants). She alleged that her nomination as a candidate for
Member of Parliament was refused by the Presiding Officer because she
is a woman who wore pants at a chiefdom or umphakatsi, much against

the dictates of Swazi culture. In court, both parties agreed on the way
forward and an order by consent was granted by the court confirming
the aggrieved voter to be a duly nominated candidate. She therefore
participated in the elections as a candidate.

The Commission received a number of complaints during the primary

and secondary elections. However, four of these cases were withdrawn
from the court by the parties concerned. In the first matter, it was
alleged that the candidate who won the election at the primary stage had
a dual citizenship for Swaziland and South Africa. It was therefore
alleged that this candidate was accordingly not eligible to be nominated
and to stand for election. This matter was withdrawn before it was
heard and determined by the court.

In the second matter, it was alleged that the candidate who won the
primary election transported voters from their homes to the polling
stations. It was also alleged that transporting the voters gave the
candidate who provided the transport service an unfair advantage over
the other candidates. It therefore was submitted that the Presiding
Officer was supposed to disqualify the candidate from contesting in the
election. The matter was, however, withdrawn from the court because a
similar application was dismissed by the court.

In the third matter, it was alleged that the candidate who won the
secondary election committed offences under the election laws. The
allegation was that the candidate committed the election offences of
treating, giving money to voters and thereby bribing the voters, de-
campaigning the candidate who brought the matter to court, and
transported a number of voters to the voting centres and told them to
vote for him. It was alleged that all these acts constitute the offence of
illegal practice under the election laws. The matter was however
withdrawn from the court before it was heard.


In the last matter, three election candidates sought from the High Court
an order compelling the Commission to produce a report on the
outcome of police investigations pertaining a complaint that the
candidates lodged with the police. The candidates alleged that the
winner of the election contravened the Elections Act by campaigning at
a time when the time for campaigning had elapsed. However, the
applicants removed the matter from the roll of the court when it had
been set down for hearing. Therefore, in order for the matter to proceed,
the applicants would need to first have it re-instated.

A total of twenty-three cases were dismissed by the High Court after

hearing submissions from attorneys of all the affected parties. A
number of irregularities were alleged to have occurred, and they
include, but not limited to the following:

(a) People registered and voted at imiphakatsi or polling stations where

they do not reside much against the provisions of the election laws;

(b) Many voters who work at the industrial site in Matsapha were
manipulated by some candidates and were transported by buses, kombis
and trucks to vote at chiefdoms and or polling stations where they did
not qualify to vote;

(c) A large number of voters were unable to vote because there was no
adherence to the prescribed opening and closing times at the polling
stations by the polling officers;

(d) Ballot papers were finished before the vote closing time and
additional ballot papers were provided very late when some voters had
already left and could not make it back when voting continued later on;

(e) Some candidates were not satisfied about the distribution and
security of the ballot papers and alleged that when they requested a

tallying of the cast ballot papers with the counterfoils, that request was
refused by the Returning and/or Presiding Officers. They therefore
alleged that they doubt the authenticity and genuineness of some cast
ballot paper;

(f) Some voters were bribed with money to vote for a particular
candidate while some were illegally influenced to vote for a particular
candidate by being given food hampers and donations for their soccer
clubs and churches;

(g) In places where there were sub-polling stations and the counting had
to be done at a central place, it was alleged that the ballot boxes were
tempered with while they were being transported to the counting place
and/or the fastening seals were removed or broken while the boxes were
being transported;

(h) At some point in time, the voters were no longer being checked
against the voters register but were simply issued with ballot papers to
vote. As a result some voters voted more than once.

In determining the cases, the court heard evidence from attorneys of all
parties involved. In all the twenty-three cases, the court decided against
the parties who brought the complaints because it either found no merit
in them or found that the irregularities that were confirmed by it were
not so serious enough to warrant the nullification of the election result.

At the time of compiling its report, the EBC said there were two
pending cases before court. In one case, it was alleged that the
candidate who won the election for Bucopho was not eligible to stand
and contest the election because he was an ex-convict and had not
finished the five years period that must lapse before he could qualify to
contest as a candidate for election. The matter was still pending before


court and was not being pursued by the party who brought it before the

The other pending case was that of the voters seeking an order of the
court directing the Secretary to the Swazi Nation to produce and make
available a copy of a report of the August 2012 Sibaya, which matter
was referred to earlier.

Only one case was filed with the Supreme Court following a decision of
the High Court. The ground of appeal was that the High Court erred by
not calling for oral evidence because a dispute of facts had been
observed from the affidavits that were filed. The Supreme Court
dismissed the appeal and the appellate was ordered to pay costs of suit
to the Commission and the candidate whose election was challenged.


This report has concentrated on elections in Swaziland and
demonstrated they are not democratic; the political system exists to
keep the ruling absolute monarchy in power. The lack of democracy in
Swaziland is well documented and widespread human rights violations
are constantly being reported by global organisations. The United States
Department of State in its annual report on human rights in Swaziland
covering 2017 stated, ‘The most significant human rights issues
included: arbitrary interference with privacy and home; restrictions on
freedoms of speech, assembly, and association; denial of citizens’
ability to choose their government in free and fair elections;
institutional lack of accountability in cases involving rape and violence
against women; criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct, although
rarely enforced; trafficking in persons; restrictions on worker rights;
and child labor. With few exceptions, the government did not prosecute
or administratively punish officials who committed abuses. In general
perpetrators acted with impunity.’

Human Rights Watch in its review of 2017 reported Swaziland

continued to repress political dissent and disregard human rights and the
rule of law. It stated the independence of the judiciary was severely
compromised and repressive laws continued to be used to target critics
of the government and King Mswati III’. It gave some details, ‘In
September, King Mswati told the United Nations General Assembly in
New York that Swaziland is committed to peace and a decent life for
all. He said his government grants every citizen an opportunity to voice
their views in order to constructively contribute to the social, economic,
cultural, and political development of the country. He failed to mention,
however, the recently passed amendments to the Public Order Act,
which allow critics of the King or the Swazi Government to be
prosecuted, and upon conviction be fined E10,0000 (US$770),


imprisoned for two years, or both for inciting “hatred or contempt”

against cultural and traditional heritage.’

Human Rights Watch said amendments to the Public Order Act granted
sweeping powers to the national commissioner of police to arbitrarily
halt pro-democracy meetings and protests, and crush any criticism of
the government. ‘Restrictions on freedom of association and assembly
continued. The government took no action to revoke the King’s
Proclamation of 1973, which prohibits formation and operations of
political parties in the country. The police used the Urban Act, which
requires protesters to give two weeks’ notice before a public protest, to
stop protests and harass protesters.’

King Mswati was above the law, Human Rights Watch reported. ‘The
constitution provides for equality before the law, but also places the
King above the law. A 2011 directive, which protects the King from
any civil law suits, issued by then-Swaziland Chief Justice Michael
Ramodibedi after Swazi villagers claimed police had seized their cattle
to add to the king’s herd, remained in force in 2017. The Sedition and
Subversive Activities Act also remained in force in 2017. The act
restricts freedom of expression by criminalizing alleged seditious
publications and use of alleged seditious words, such as those which
“may excite disaffection” against the King. Published criticism of the
ruling party is also banned. Many journalists told Human Rights Watch
that they practice self-censorship, especially with regards to reports
involving the king, to avoid harassment by authorities.’

Freedom House in its annual report said civil liberties in Swaziland had
deteriorated in 2017. ‘Swaziland’s civil liberties rating declined from
five to six due to increased government infringements on religious
freedom and freedom of private discussion.’ On a scale from one to
seven where seven was the least free, Swaziland scored 6.5 on freedom;


seven on political rights and six on civil liberties. It scored 16 out of

100 in total and Freedom House reported Swaziland was ‘not free’.

Swaziland came 50th out of 54 African countries for participation and

human rights in a survey of 2017 published by the Mo Ibrahim
Foundation and it had got worse over the past five years. Swaziland
scored a total 48.9 out of 100 in a range of four areas of governance.
Swaziland got a score of 24.6 out of 100 in participation and human

In May 2017 the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most
unequal country in the world in a report called Starting With People, a
Human Economy Approach to Inclusive Growth in Africa that detailed
the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at
the bottom.


APPENDIX: Commonwealth Observer Mission Report

The EBC in its report on the 2013 election noted it accredited more than
400 international and local observers to observe the poll. The observer
teams were namely the Commonwealth, African Union (AU), European
Union (EU), United States Embassy in Swaziland, German Consulate,
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), SADC Elections
Observer Mission (SEOM), SADC Parliamentary Forum, SADC
Lawyers Association, SADC Electoral Commissions Forum (ECF),
SADC NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs), Common Market for
Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Co-ordination Assembly
of Non-Governmental Organization (CANGO).

In its report, the EBC listed good practices and areas for improvement
highlighted by observers but it ignored the fact that many groups
declared the election was not free and fair because Swaziland was not a

Below is an extract from the Commonwealth Observer Mission report

on the 2013 election that offers a more complete picture. It concludes,
‘that the entire process could not be deemed credible, due to major
democratic deficits’.


We were conscious that our observation exercise was the third such
mission the Commonwealth has constituted, following the presence of
observer teams in both 2003 and 2008. We were also cognisant that, in
December 2012, Commonwealth governments reaffirmed and
strengthened their commitment to democratic culture and governance
through the adoption of the Commonwealth Charter. This was a
significant step, as it signalled that the aspirations of good governance,


the consolidation of democracy and adherence to the rule of law remain

at the heart of Commonwealth values and principles.

We also recognise, however, that the consolidation of democracy is an

evolutionary process. Consequently, we acknowledge the positive, yet
incremental, steps that have been taken in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
We laud the EBC, in particular, for having conducted a peaceful, well-
managed and transparent process on Election Day. Some of the
benchmarks for democratic elections were met, including the right of
the people to exercise their franchise. We congratulate the people of
Swaziland too, for turning out with enthusiasm to cast their votes.
Though there were a number of technical shortcomings, we believe that
with appropriate support, they could be overcome in future elections.
Most notable among these were the inconsistencies in polling
procedures and the decision by the EBC to centralize the count in one
central location after the close of the polls, contrary to legal provisions
and the EBC’s own guidelines.

Our mandate, however, was not to simply observe the conduct of the
polls on Election Day: as was the case for Commonwealth observer
missions in 2003 and 2008, we took into account all aspects of the
electoral process in our observations and assessed key developments
that had taken place in Swaziland since the previous National Elections,
held in 2008. In doing so, we considered that, in both 2003 and 2008,
Commonwealth observers had concluded that the entire process could
not be deemed credible, due to major democratic deficits. As one of 32
small states in the Commonwealth, with concomitant vulnerabilities, the
achievement of Swaziland’s national development objectives were
being constrained by a system where, firstly, Parliament did not have
power, due to prevailing inconsistencies and contradictions, in
particular as they related to the separation of powers (or lack thereof)
and the rule of law; and secondly, political parties were proscribed, due


to contradictions as they related to the interpretation of the fundamental

right of freedom of association and assembly.

We found that, on these aspects, the political environment remained

mainly unchanged for the 2013 elections. The key difference in 2013
was that the election legislation had been enacted, including enabling
legislation for the establishment of the EBC, though with considerably
compressed timelines just prior to the elections. Overall, the elections
were well conducted but we strongly believe that there is considerable
room for improving the democratic system, in light of Swaziland’s
international obligations. We, therefore, cannot conclude that the entire
process was credible, if measured against those obligations.

It is our fervent hope that the people of Swaziland could be encouraged

to consolidate the democratic gains made with the adoption of the 2005
Constitution, through inclusive, national consultation and dialogue
processes, while remaining sensitive to Swazi cultural norms and


The Constitutional and Legal Framework

• that measures be adopted to ensure that the principle of the

separation of powers is upheld, to assure Swaziland’s
international commitments in this regard, including adherence to
the Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on Three
Branches of Government.
• that, while cognisant of the respect due to the institution of
Monarchy, which in itself should be safeguarded and
accommodated, the constitution be revisited. 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), to harmonise
those provisions which are in conflict. The aim is to ensure that
Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.
• that enabling legislation be enacted to allow for political parties,
so as to give full effect to the letter and spirit of Section 25 of
the Constitution, and in accordance with Swaziland’s
commitment to its regional and international commitments.

The Political Environment

Women and youth:

• that initiatives be developed in an effort to level the playing
field for women and youth participation for the next elections.
This should ideally constitute robust programs to be introduced
and implemented by chiefs, the government and EBC, alongside
civil society, to educate Swazis on equality and encourage
women and youth to participate fully in the democratic process.
• that civil society be empowered to deliver extensive civic
education programming well in advance of the elections.
• that capacity building programmes be put in place to cultivate
professionalism and adherence to the Swaziland journalists’
Code of Ethics.
• that the government of Swaziland encourage and facilitate the
development of private media, with particular emphasis on the
radio, due to its broad reach.

Preparations for the Elections

Boundary delimitation:


• that the government should work towards conducting a

demarcation of boundaries at the earliest convenient
Election timetable:
• that the drafting and approval of the election timeline for the
EBC should occur long ahead of time to enhance adequate
planning and implementation.
• that an activity timeline be incorporated into the EBC budget to
minimize financial constraints that may affect proper
implementation of its activities.
Voter registration:
• that the EBC enacts regulations to clarify the provision on
voting age.
• that a clear timetable for the exhibition and inquiry of the voter
register be drawn up, in line with the Elections Act (2013), as a
major activity of the EBC.
Civic and Voter Education:
• that a National Commission on Civic Education be constituted,
to sensitise citizens on National programs and complement the
work of the EBC in that regard.
Training and Capacity Building:
• that training packages for election officials and security
personnel be catered for by the EBC, to allow adequate training
to be conducted in every election year.
Lost Voter ID cards:
• that the EBC takes full responsibility for voter ID card
replacement, in accordance with the best practices in other
The Campaign:
• that the current guidelines for election campaigns be revisited in
consultation with the EBC, political organisations, candidates


and civil society to further identify campaign conduct and ethics

with a view to level the playing field.
Recruitment of Polling Staff:
• that the EBC should establish regional offices where all election
activities can be coordinated.
Election Offences:
• that review committees be set up and headed by a judge and a
regional election officer as the secretary, and at least two
representatives of key stakeholders, to look into complaints and
other election-related matters.

Voting, Counting and Results Process

Arrangements for Polling Day:

• that the EBC should consider establishing regional offices where
people can go for assistance and access electoral information.
• As outlined in the Elections Act, the EBC should provide maps
of tinkhundla to facilitate locating polling stations8.

Opening and Closing of Polls:

• that the current written guidelines relating to procedures for the
count be revised to ensure that they are more comprehensive.
• that the count should be done at polling stations to ensure its
• that, at the count, the votes should be recorded on results sheets
and declared, prior to onward submission for collation centrally
at the constituency level.
• that a more secure method of sealing the opening of ballot boxes
be adopted.


• that largely populated polling stations be split and moved to a

nearby location to ease accessibility and create more space for
effective operations.
Special Voting:
• that provisions be adopted to clarify the arrangements and
procedures for the conduct of special voting.
• that a special day be set aside for candidates in their respective
constituencies to be present when the votes are being cast.
• that a polling station may be created, or, re-created, in order for
candidates and their agents to witness the casting of ballots, for
example for those on essential duty on Election Day after which,
they should be sealed and taken to the counting locations.
• that the EBC consider expanding the categories of citizens who
are eligible to cast special votes and allow candidates and their
agents to observe the process.
• that the current provisions for handling special votes abroad be
revisited, to ensure that, as far as possible, no Swazi citizens
abroad are disenfranchised. (We are, however, conscious that
there are significant administrative and resource challenges
linked to this recommendation.)
• that the EBC consider adopting proxy voting, for absentee
voters who are unable to physically vote in person e.g. voters in
hospital and the infirm.
• that training of the police on electoral issues in relation with
their security role should continue to be an integral part of
preparations for national elections.
Domestic observers:
• that further training opportunities are provided for domestic
Candidates’ Agents:


• that the EBC adopts guidelines, in consultation with candidates,

to enhance the recruitment and the provision of training
opportunities for agents.
• that candidates’ agents be provided with a clearly identifiable
photographic badge.
Secrecy of the ballot:
• that the EBC removes the procedure for recording voter ID
numbers on the counterfoils, which is a potential threat to the
secrecy of the ballots.
• that the EBC revisits current arrangements for the layout of
polling stations, in particular the positioning of voting booths, to
further eliminate potential threats to the secrecy of the ballot in
future elections.



Internet sites

Elections and Boundaries Commission

Swazi Media Commentary


Commonwealth (2013) Swaziland National Elections, Report of the

Commonwealth Observer Mission, 20 September 2013. Available at

European Union (2013) Election Experts Mission Swaziland Primary

and Secondary Elections 24 August – 20 September 2013, Available at

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2013) Human Rights and

Democracy Report 2012, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London.
Available at

Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2005), The Constitution of

the Kingdom of Swaziland Act 2005, Government Printer, Mbabane.
Available at


Motsamai, D. (2012) Swaziland’s nonparty political system and the

2013 tinkhundla elections, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria.
Available at

US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and

Labor, (2018) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017,
Swaziland, Washington. Available at



Richard Rooney Ph.D was associate professor and the founding head of
the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the
University of Swaziland. He has taught at universities in the United
Kingdom, Europe, the Pacific and Africa. His academic research has
been published in books and journals across the world.

Since July 2007 he has published the Swazi Media Commentary blog
containing information and commentary in support of human rights in

He edits a weekly email newsletter with news from and about

Swaziland, compiled in collaboration with Africa Contact, Denmark
( and sent to all with an interest in Swaziland - free of
charge. To subscribe mail to: SAK-Swazinewsletter-


Swazi Media Commentary

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