Aug. 27 (GIN) – Cheating may have reached new heights in the kingdom of Mswati III, last reigning absolute monarch in southern Africa.
In the Aug. 24 poll, one winning candidate reportedly brought in so many voters from outside the district that as many as 1,000 people voted, although only 300 lived in the chiefdom, the official Swazi Observer reported.
There were similar complaints across Swaziland, the paper reported, and in some cases people said they were paid for their votes. Ballot papers had incorrect names and some voters were simply denied the chance to vote.
The Observer noted: ‘Most people felt that the elections were far from being “free and fair”, pointing out that voting was opened for just four hours in some stations while in other stations they were given the full 10 hours or more.’
Sex discrimination was also in evidence. Mani Mavimbela, 18, was denied a ballot spot when she showed up to be registered while wearing jeans. Dr. Sikelela Dlamini in the Africa Review, noted: “Archaic and chauvinistic practices are being used to prevent Swazi women from taking part in primary elections, despite the country having a constitution that guarantees their rights.”
An editorial in Swazi Media Commentary critically observed: “The King chooses the government under the “tinkhundla” system,” they wrote. “Political parties are banned. Out of 55 House of Assembly members, 10 are picked by the King. He chooses 20 out of 30 senators, all the government ministers and the nation’s prime minister.”
Now, the fate of Swaziland, Lesotho, and Botswana has emerged as a campaign plank in neighboring South Africa. A manifesto of the Economic Freedom Fighters, led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, calls for the elimination of the region’s national borders in a step called “progressive internationalism”.
The proposal was shot down sharply by Motsoko Pheko, a long time activist, lawyer and author in a piece published by the website Pambazuka.
Pheko wrote: “Annexing” Lesotho and Swaziland to the “rainbow nation” is no solution for Lesotho and Swaziland nor for so-called “New South Africa” itself, while the African people are still colonially robbed of their country (Azania, colonially called South Africa). “It would be suicidal for the Basotho, Batswana and Swazi to be incorporated into a still economically controlled South Africa,” without resolving the land question in South Africa first.”