Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Swazi Media Commentary

4 November 2008


Swaziland should look again at its constitution, this time ensuring that there is full consultation with the people, civic society and political organisations.

This s a major recommendation from the Commonwealth Expert Team (CET) members that were official observers of the elections in Swaziland in September.

The CET said that the elections were not entirely credible because the constitution banned political parties and members of parliament had few real powers.

In its report on the election, just published, the CET says revisiting the constitution is necessary to ‘ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal’.

It says that review of the constitution ‘should be carried out through a process of full consultation with Swazi political organisations and civil society (possibly with the support of constitutional experts).’

The CET went on to say that the election was not credible, even though a new constitution has been introduced in Swaziland since the last election in 2003.

The CET states, ‘Swaziland has now adopted a new Constitution, which affords the nation an opportunity to make democratic progress. The real challenge is to gain the confidence of the democratic dispensation with an entrenched bill of rights, as is expected of Swaziland in accordance with Commonwealth principles and declarations.’

It added, ‘We also noted our serious concerns on the inherent inconsistencies and contradictions, particularly as they relate to the separation of powers (or lack thereof) and the rule of law. We also expressed our deep concern for the inconsistency and contradictions as they relate to the interpretation of the fundamental right of freedom of association and assembly, where political parties are denied formal recognition, so that they do not have the right to carry out activities which political parties would normally conduct in a multi-party democracy.

‘We believe that the Monarchy and a multi-party democracy are not mutually exclusive, and that a mechanism should be found to insulate the Monarchy from the turbulence of politics.

It goes on, ‘In the modern world, which is complex and constantly evolving, a multi-party democratic system has proved to be the best one for accommodating diversity and well-treasured norms in society. Practical experience has shown that institutions which have been marginalised have suffered. Confidence in the institutional framework to promote a vibrant electorate is vital, as a conscientious, well informed electorate is critical in this day and age. In any country the prevailing political environment influences all aspects of life including social and economic conditions for its citizens. One of the major areas it affects is the constitutional and legislative framework governing electoral processes.’

According to a report from the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation, the Swazi government has declined to comment on the report until it has had a chance to study it fully.

This is a standard response from the Swazi ruling elite to any criticism it receives from the international community. In practice, the government never responds (think of all those criticisms earlier this year and last about the poor governance in Swaziland).

The government thinks it can ignore these findings. It can’t. It is up to democrats to keep pushing the point that Swaziland’s ‘unique’ democracy stands condemned and it must change.

To read the full report, click here.

See also


Link http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2008/11/swaziland-rewrite-constitution.html

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Commonwealth News and Information Service (London)

29 October 2008
Posted to the web 30 October 2008

Swaziland: Commonwealth Expert Team Issues Final Report On 2008 Elections

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma today released the Final Report of the Commonwealth Expert Team which observed the 2008 National Elections in Swaziland.

Mr Sharma said: "Despite the fact that the Team found that the elections on polling day were reasonably well conducted, they raised concerns about the totality of the electoral process. The Team felt that the reasons for this lay in weaknesses in the current constitutional, legal and electoral framework. These required reforms through a process of consultation and dialogue.

"What is vital now is for the Government and all political and civil society organizations in Swaziland to work together to chart a mutually agreed path for the future development of the country, with a view to ensuring its sustainable growth and stability, in line with Commonwealth fundamental values. The Commonwealth stands ready to assist in that process", the Secretary-General added.

The Report was completed and signed by all members of the Commonwealth Expert Team, prior to their departure from Swaziland. It was presented to the Commonwealth Secretary-General by the Team leader, Dr Paul Ssemogerere, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda. Before being made public, it was distributed to the Government of Swaziland, to Swazi political and civil society organisations, to the Elections and Boundaries Commission of Swaziland, and to all other Commonwealth governments.

Link http://allafrica.com/stories/200810300038.html