Neelam Rahim | email@example.com
30 September 2023 | 14:41 CAT
Eswatini, the country formally known as Swaziland, held elections Friday to decide part of the makeup of its Parliament, even as its extremely wealthy King retains absolute power, political parties are banned and elected representatives can merely advise a monarch whose family has reigned supreme for 55 years.
Wedged between South Africa and Mozambique, Eswatini is the last absolute monarchy in Africa and one of the few remaining in the world. King Mswati III, 55, has been the monarch since 1986 when he became ruler days after his 18th birthday. His father was King for 82 years before him, although Eswatini only gained independence from Britain in 1968.
Government authorities say it will be an opportunity to vote for the Swati people’s ideal government and preferred system of governance.
More than 500,000 people are registered to vote in the southern African nation of 1.2 million, where polling stations open at 07:00 am (0500 GMT) and will close 11 hours later.
Voters are called to choose 59 members of the lower house of Parliament, which plays only an advisory role to the monarch, King Mswati III, who wields absolute power.
Candidates were nominated during village councils by traditional chiefs close to the King.
Most are loyal to King Mswati, who holds all the cards.
“Once MPs are elected, the oath that they take is not inclusive of the people in Swaziland or the country, allegiance is paid to the King. The people have no power in voting for a Prime Minister forming a government,” says Lucky Lukhele, spokesperson of the South African-based Swaziland Solidarity Network movement with the people of Swaziland.
“They are saying that there are elections that are free and fair (but) there is nothing like that,” said Sakhile Nxumalo, 28, who heads the Swaziland Youth Congress, the youth wing of a criminal pro-democracy party.
“We don’t take this election seriously because they serve the interests of only a few,” Nxumalo added.
Listen to the full interview on The Daily Round-Up with Moulana Junaid Kharsany.