Saturday, May 24, 2008


From Swazi Media Commentary

Swaziland will know this week the date of its national election.

The kingdom’s Elections and Boundaries Commission held a press conference last Friday (4 April 2008) to announce this.

That’s right. It held a press conference to tell us that sometime this week it will tell us the date of the election (presumably by holding another press conference).

The Swazi News (5 April 2008) was a bit put out by this, calling it a ‘mockery press briefing’ by the ‘illegally appointed’ Commission. I don’t suppose it would do any good if I pointed out that news reporting is meant to be unbiased and objective (go take a look at the SNAJ Code of Conduct Article 1 people).

The Weekend Observer (5 April 2008), as befitting a newspaper that is in effect owned by King Mswati III, was very supportive of the Commission. It gave space to the Commission’s Deputy Commissioner Mzwandile Fakudze to ‘clarify’ how it was that the newly appointed Commission had no judges on it, even though this was a specific requirement of the Swazi Constitution.

Fakudze said the Constitution also allowed for people of ‘high moral character and proven integrity’ to be appointed and the Commission members were appointed on this basis.

The Weekend Observer went on to report Fakudze saying that the King Mswati III (after being advised by the Judicial Service Commission) was the person to decide who had high moral character and proven integrity.

With the date of the election getting nearer (it is widely expected to be in October or November 2008) more and more election reports are getting into the newspapers. The main headline on the front page of the Swazi Observer on Monday (7 April 2008) read TEACHER ACCUSED OF ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN. The story referred to a school principal (not actually a teacher as the headline said) who had asked members of her community to nominate and support her candidacy for Parliament.

In the Alice in Wonderland world of Swaziland’s ‘unique’ democracy this is illegal because the powers that be haven’t said campaigning can begin.

Well, I suppose it depends on who you are, because the same issue of the Observer had a report about Zombodze Emuza, a sitting Member of Parliament, who told his constituency at a meeting of all the hard work he had put in on their behalf over the past five years. Then he gave each resident of his constituency two loaves of bread.

Which of course had nothing whatsoever to do with election campaigning.


First published 10 April 2008

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