The struggle for independence in Swaziland contended with two important dynamics: (i) the emerging new ideology of party politics in Africa largely patterned after the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy; (ii) the ideology of traditionalism that centred all contestation of political power on the monarchy. I observe that over the years the dominant philosophical framework in Swaziland has been that all constitutional initiatives should take due regard of the history, culture, traditions and way of life of the Swazi people. While the need to harmonise traditional sensibilities with modern principles of constitutional and international law is underscored, there is no political will to forge such harmony. In the light of the historical processes that have taken place since the 1960s I argue that the ideology of traditionalism is under threat. Kingship as an institution is also threatened as calls for genuine democratisation of the Swazi state are made both from within and from without, in the latter case by the community of nations. I conclude by suggesting that unless adjustments are made to both the traditional and the modern political structures, Swaziland will continue to be a security risk in the Southern Africa region. It is imperative, therefore, to shift tradition from being an ideology of domination to one of a shared value system in a transitory state guided by the realities of a modern democratic society.
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Categories: Journal of African Elections