Swaziland’s Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku has announced that the national elections this year will take place in August.
Usually only the Swazi King, Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, decides on the date and announces it formally to his subjects.
But, Masuku told the Sunday Independent newspaper in South Africa this week (27 January 2013), ‘We hold regular elections and the next one’s billed for August.’
He went on to tell the newspaper that political parties were legal in Swaziland and could fight the election. This statement goes against commonly held belief that political parties are banned.
He told the newspaper, ‘It is inaccurate to say political parties are unwanted because Chapter 3 of our constitution guarantees freedom of association. If someone does not want to exercise that right it is not the problem of the state.’
He went on to say that political parties would have to go to the local government centres, known as tinkhundla, ‘sell their programmes to the people and not fear going to the polls’.