Swaziland votes in parliamentary polls

2013-09-20 07:42
King Mswati III

King Mswati III

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mbabane - The tiny mountain kingdom of Swaziland votes for a new parliament Friday, in an election dismissed by critics as a rubber stamp for King Mswati III's absolute rule.

Around 415 000 of the country's 1.2 million citizens are registered to cast their ballots for 55 parliamentarians.

Political parties are not formally banned, but are restricted, and the country remains sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarchy.

Election candidates are hand-picked locally by traditional chiefs, who are loyal to the king.

Mswati holds ultimate sway over the government, he can veto new laws, dissolve parliament and may not be sued or charged.

He recently described the system as a "monarchical democracy".

Opposition groups like banned party Pudemo and South Africa-based Swaziland Solidarity Network have called for a boycott of the poll.

"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," said US-based rights group Freedom House in a damning report this month.

Fiscal crisis

But the presence of a handful of reform-minded candidates has led some commentators to speculate that Swaziland's royals may be preparing a more inclusive government that could bring gradual change.

Locked between Mozambique and South Africa, Swaziland remains one of the world's poorest countries, though its monarch is said to be worth around $200m.

Around 70% of the 1.2 million people live below the poverty line, according to the UN. At the same time, 31% of adults live with HIV or Aids, according to a 2012 survey.

A fiscal crisis is also looming as the government has done little to cut a ballooning public wage bill and the royal household's spending.

Mswati has 13 wives and last weekend announced his engagement to a 14th. The queens each have their own palaces and are notorious for overseas shopping sprees.

Swaziland relies on a regional customs union for almost half of public revenues, according to UK-based think tank Chatham House.

But that income is set drop dramatically in coming years when the union changes its pay-outs.

"The country's economic trajectory is unsustainable," researcher Chris Vandome wrote in an article on the Chatham House website.

Serious abuses

"After the election dust has settled, King Mswati III will need to consider reform options to lower the crippling public sector wage bill and improve the business environment."

Social upheaval is uncommon, though police have crushed the few peaceful protests that occurred in the country over the past years.

Two weeks ago they broke up a fact-finding mission of international trade unionists after detaining a few.

"Human rights reports on Swaziland have cited serious abuses including killings by security forces, torture and beatings of pro-democracy activists, [and] arbitrary arrests," said Freedom House in their report that branded the country a "failed feudal state".

Elections are held every five years after which Mswati appoints a new prime minister.

Current Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, 71, has governed since 2008, and also held power from 1996 to 2003.

Read more on:    king mswati iii  |  barnabas dlamini  |  swaziland  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike

Watch this insane drift contest with four-times dirt-track World champion Karl Maier riding a speedway bike against a BMW M235i.

 
 

Men24.com

Want to start talking dirty?
Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong focus on social interaction and connecting with your friends. You may have the need to expand and connect with a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.