9 April 2008
No political parties at elections - Gija
By Timothy Simelane
CHAIRMAN of the Elections and Boundaries Commission Chief Gija Dlamini says political parties remain illegal in Swaziland.
Chief Gija says the clause allowing freedom of association in the national constitution merely talks about other formations, not necessarily political parties. He made an example of Mbabane Highlanders as just one of the many associations people can freely associate with. Chief Gija was addressing chiefs and traditional authorities at Siteki Hotel where the Elections and Boundaries Commission held a civic education.
He said the national constitution did not say people would go to the polls by political associations.
“People will be elected as individuals. If the community picks an individual and feels he qualifies to represent them, they can just vote him in, as long as he or she is Swazi.
The chairman was responding to a question from Chief Sibengwane Ndzimandze who wanted to know what would happen in the event that some people use political affiliation to canvas for parliamentary seats.
Petros Masina of Enceka also asked: “What are we going to do when people who affiliate with political parties eventually win the elections and go to parliament. Whilst there, they may try to change the system of governance.”
Chief Gija said the chiefs should not be concerned about political parties.
“Emaphathi akhona emoyeni nje. Emtsetfweni akabusiswa. Kwasho emaSwati kutsi afuna tinkhundla,” he said, meaning “political parties are not founded on the law. Swazis said they needed the Tinkhundla system of governance.”
The chairman explained that in parliament no one could claim to be representing a political party.
He read section 79 of the constitution: “The system of government for Swaziland is a democratic, participatory, tinkhundla-based system which emphasises devolution of state power from central government to tinkhundla areas and individual merit as a basis for election or appointment to public office.”