SADC assigns official to oversee Election Observer Mission in Eswatini’s ‘tinkhundla’ vote

Sadc Assigns Official To Oversee Election Observer Mission In Eswatini's 'tinkhundla' Vote

Elections in Eswatini are scheduled to take place at the end of September.

  • Elias Magosi from Botswana, the Executive Secretary of SADC, will lead the regional bloc’s observation mission to Eswatini.
  • This mission has been deployed to all four regions of the kingdom to observe the pre-election and post-election phases.
  • According to an Afrobarometer survey, 86% of AmaSwati expressed that the economic situation under the absolute monarchy was either “fairly bad” or “very bad”.

Elias Magosi, the Executive Secretary of SADC, has been appointed by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, who chairs the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Co-operation, to lead the regional bloc’s Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to Eswatini for the general elections at the end of this month.

This deployment aligns with the revised SADC principles and guidelines for democratic elections in 2021, following an invitation from King Mswati.

Magosi will oversee the SEOM’s presence in all four regions of the Kingdom of Eswatini, monitoring both the pre-election and post-election phases.

Similar to the SEOM’s previous mission in Zimbabwe, this mission will assess the adherence to the bloc’s principles and guidelines during the elections. Some of these principles include full citizen participation in democratic and developmental processes, measures to prevent political violence, equal opportunities for all political parties to access state media, access to information for all citizens, and acceptance and respect for the election results by all candidates.

Eswatini employs an electoral system called tinkhundla, which is based on conventional administrative divisions. The country has 55 tinkhundlas spread across four districts. However, political parties are prohibited from participating, and the system is often seen as a means for the king to select his preferred representatives for the legislature.

In December of the previous year, representatives from Eswatini’s civil society and opposition parties convened in South Africa to discuss and devise a plan to compel King Mswati III to abdicate and establish a democratic monarchy.

An opinion poll conducted by Afrobarometer in July revealed that the people of Eswatini lack confidence in their government’s ability to address pressing issues. A significant 86% of AmaSwati expressed dissatisfaction with the country’s economic situation under the absolute monarchy. Only 12% believed the government was adequately managing the economy, and 10% felt that enough was being done to improve their standard of living.

Good Governance Africa (GGA), a research and advocacy organization, interpreted the survey findings as a call for change. They emphasized the need for economic policies prioritizing the well-being of Eswatini’s citizens.

The elections are scheduled for September 29th.