‘The country is going in the wrong direction’: Eswatini majority unhappy with monarchy, survey finds


An Afrobarometer survey has found that many citizens of Eswatini are unhappy with the standard of living in the last absolute monarchy in Africa.

According to the survey report, “overwhelming majorities say the government is performing poorly on key economic issues”. The overwhelming majority (84%) “say the country is going in ‘the wrong direction’, twice as many as in 2018 (42%)”.

As such, the report says, while the Covid-19 pandemic and civil unrest since June 2021 characterized the outgoing government’s five-year term, amid growing calls for King Mswati III to abdicate, the incoming leadership will carry the challenges of the past. These challenges were reflected in an opinion poll that said public approval ratings plummeted for the government’s performance on managing the economy, improving the living standards of the poor, creating jobs, narrowing the gap between rich and poor; and keeping prices stable.

Last month, the king dissolved the government in preparation for the tinkhundla elections that are set for 29 September. Tinkhundla is a form of governance based on traditional administrative subdivisions. Eswatini has 59 tinkhundla in its four districts – Hhohho, Lubombo, Manzini and Shiselweni.

Emaswati says the country is going in the wrong direction as lived poverty continues to rise. The tinkhundla have 336 chiefdoms (umphakatsi) under them.

According to the Eswatini Elections and Boundaries Commission, 583 680 registered voters out of a 1.2 million population will cast their vote at 664 polling stations.

Political parties are banned, and individuals linked to political parties are not allowed to stand for election. As such, pro-democracy groups have for years called for the disbandment of the monarchy.

In December 2022, civil society and opposition parties in Eswatini met in South Africa to discuss and adopt a strategy aimed at achieving the abdication of King Mswati III and turning the monarchy into a democracy.

The Mass Democratic Movement, under the Swaziland Multi-Stakeholder Forum, adopted the eBundu Declaration at a two-day gathering in Mbombela, Mpumalanga.

Named after the lodge where the meeting was held, the declaration was aimed at making “resolutions on important political issues affecting our country, Swaziland”.

However, a month later, Swaziland Multi-Stakeholder Forum chair Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer, was assassinated in front of his family at his home. No one has been arrested in a case where the government is widely blamed but denies any links to the incident.

According to Human Rights Watch, authorities in Eswatini have failed to address issues linked to the maiming and killing of pro-democracy activists in the past three years.

News 24

Posted by on Aug 12 2023. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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