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Eswatini holds ‘meaningless’ parliamentary elections, as king remains constitutionally above the law


ESWATINI – Eswatini will today hold parliamentary elections in which political parties cannot directly take part.

About 585,000 registered voters will be called to choose 59 members of the lower house of parliament, which plays only an advisory role to the monarch.

Africanews reported that in addition to elected lawmakers, 10 were directly appointed by King Mswati III.

According to the UNDP, Eswatini’s 2021 Labour Force Survey stated that 59.1 percent of youth aged between 20 and 24 were unemployed, an issue the King is addressing, his special advisor said.

According to reports by Africanews, only about a dozen of candidates nominated during primaries last month were known to have ties to the opposition.

Read more: Kenyan, Eswatini nabbed for trafficking in drug; DEC heightens surveillance

If some contest to represent their constituencies, human rights lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi said these elections cannot change the way the 1.2 million people are governed: “The purpose of an election in my view, is to form a government, if you can’t form a government then the elections are meaningless.

“You go to a polling station because you want to exercise a right on how you want to be governed. You want to have a say on how you want to be governed…, so, under the current establishment it is even difficult for one to hold a public official accountable, because you have elected the person, but once he is in parliament he is generally at the behest of the King.”

Most opposition groupings have called for a boycott.

Three have told voters to go to the polls. Polls are currently open.

Mswati can veto any legislation.

The king is constitutionally above the law.

He appoints the prime minister and the cabinet, can dissolve both parliament and the government and commands police and the army.

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