Prayer for ”people’s government” in Swaziland

No to phoney elections 2013On February 16, The Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) are to hold a national prayer “for a people’s government.” The prayer is to be held at Bosco Skills Centre in Manzini at 9 am.

The prayer coincides with the recent launch SUDF’s and SDC’s campaign for a people’s government and the call of for a boycott of the undemocratic elections in Swaziland later in the year.

Using the medium of a national prayer is also a call to action along religious lines. “The powerful and irresistible aspiration that our people have for ‘liberation’ constitutes one of the principal ‘signs of the times’ which the Church has to examine and interpret in the light of the Gospel,” the SUDF and SDC stated in a press release.

In the press release, the two organisations stated that they believe the aims of the campaign for a people’s government are widely supported in Swaziland and internationally. “As we launch a nation- wide campaign for a people`s government  we know that we have the support of the vast majority of the oppressed and marginalized people of our beloved country Swaziland and those in solidarity with us around the globe.”

Swaziland is effectively an absolute monarchy where the constitution allows the King to appoint and fire government ministers and members of parliament at will and control the judiciary and parliament. Political parties are banned and not allowed to contest elections.

American research and advocacy NGO Freedom House stated in its 2012 report that “Swaziland is not an electoral democracy.” Human Rights Watch stated in its 2012 World Report that “Under Swazi law and custom, all powers are vested in the king.”

And according to an election observer report from the last elections, held in 2008, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) concluded that the monarchy controls the election process and the response to this by those who call for multi-party democracy through a combination of the traditional structures and the constitution.

“The chiefs have used their power to influence the nomination and election of candidates in the primary election in a way that is in conflict with basic democratic values and practices. They are in a position to coerce the voters … The 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act gives the government wide ranging powers to deal with dissenters and clamp down on the media.”

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