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Politics of Swaziland


Swaziland is an absolute monarchy with constitutional provisions and Swazi Law and Custom.The head of state is the king or Ngwenyama (lit. Lion), currently King Mswati III, who ascended to the throne in 1986 after the death of his father King Sobhuza II in 1982 and a period of regency.


According to the constitution of Swaziland, the King and Ingwenyama is a symbol of unity and the eternity of the Swazi nation.

 By tradition, the king reigns along with his mother or a ritual substitute, the Ndlovukati (lit. She-Elephant). The former was viewed as the administrative head of state and the latter as a spiritual and national head of state, with real power counterbalancing that of the king, but during the long reign of Sobhuza II the role of the Ndlovukati became more symbolic.

 The king appoints the prime minister from the legislature and also appoints a minority of legislators to both chambers of Libandla (parliament), with help from an advisory council. The king is allowed by the constitution to appoint some members to parliament for special interests. 

These special interests are citizens who might have been left out by the electorate during the course of elections or did not enter as candidates. This is done to balance views in parliament. Special interests could be people of gender, race, disability, business community, civic society, scholars, chiefs and so on. 

The Senate consists of 30 members, of which some are appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and others elected by the lower house.

 The House of Assembly has 65 seats, 55 of which are occupied by elected representatives from the 55 constituencies around the country, 10 appointed by the king on recommendation of the advisory council and the attorney general is the ex-officio member. Elections are held every five years.

Executive branch

In general practice, however, the monarch's power is delegated through a dualistic system: modern and, statutory bodies, like the cabinet, and less formal traditional government structures.

 At present, parliament consists of an 82-seat House of Assembly (55 members are elected through popular vote; the Attorney General as an ex-officio member; 10 are appointed by the king and four women elected from each one of the administrative regions) and 30-seat Senate (10 members are appointed by the House of Assembly, and 20 are appointed by the king, whom at least the half must be women). 

The king must approve legislation passed by parliament before it becomes law. The prime minister, who is head of government is appointed by the king from among the members of the House on recommendations of the King's Advisory Council and the cabinet, which is recommended by the prime minister and approved by the king, exercises executive authority.

Head of government

The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the King after the election of a new parliament. The prime minister is a member of parliament and serves a five year term. The prime minister cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. The current prime minister is Sibusiso Dlamini, who was appointed for a third term, by the king, on 17 September 2013. As a head of government, he chairs the cabinet meetings.

Cabinet government

The cabinet of the Swaziland government is appointed by the king on advise from the prime minister. The members of the cabinet must be members of either Houses of parliament. The members of the cabinet are known as ministers, and they head government departments called ministries. They head their respective portfolios until the end of the parliament's term, or unless there is a cabinet reshuffle, dismissal, or death.

Legislative branch

The Swazi bicameral Parliament or Libandla consists of the Senate (30 seats; 10 members appointed by the House of Assembly and 20 appointed by the monarch; to serve five-year terms) and the House of Assembly (65 seats; 10 members appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by popular vote; to serve five-year terms). 

The elections are held every five years after dissolution of parliament by the King. The last elections were held in 20 September 2013.The balloting is done on a non-party basis in all categories. All election procedures are overseen by the elections and boundaries commission.

Election procedure

Nominations take place at the chiefdoms. On the day of nomination, the name of the nominee is raised by a show of hand and the nominee is given an opportunity to indicate whether he or she accepts the nomination. If he or she accepts it, he or she must be supported by at least ten members of that chiefdom. The nominations are for the position of Member of Parliament, Constituency Headman (Indvuna) and the Constituency Executive Committee (Bucopho).

 The minimum number of nominees is four and the maximum is ten. Primary elections also take place at the chiefdom level. It is by secret ballot. During the Primary Elections, the voters are given an opportunity to elect the member of the executive committee (Bucopho) for that particular chiefdom. Aspiring Members of Parliament and the constituency Headman are also elected from each chiefdom. 

The secondary and final elections takes place at the various constituencies called Tinkhundla. Candidates who won primary elections in the chiefdoms are considered nominees for the secondary elections at inkhundla or constituency level. The nominees with majority votes become the winners and they become members of parliament or constituency headman.

Political parties and participation

Political parties were banned by the constitution promulgated on 13 October 1978.The new constitution does not take into consideration party activity whereas freedom of association is protected.