Swaziland: Electoral system

Updated September 2008

Legal basis[1] Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland 2005
Election Order, 1992
Voter registration Order, 1992
Proclamation No 7 of 12 April 1973 (bans political parties)
Electoral system House of Assembly Elections: Tinkhundla system; Swaziland is divided into constituencies (tinkhundla) which are subdivided into chiefdoms. Direct universal adult franchise first-past-post constituency elections[2]. The voters of each of several chiefdoms in an inkhundla nominate candidates to stand for election. These then compete with other candidates nominated in this way to represent the inkhundla in the House of Assembly[3].
Election period House of Assembly elections every 5 years[4].
Electoral institutions Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC)[5].
Functions of electoral institutions To supervise voter registration, to ensure fair and free elections, to facilitate voter education, to delimit tinkhundla constituencies and to produce periodic reports on work done[6].
Independence of electoral institutions Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) members are appointed by the King; the Chair and Deputy-Chair on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission and the other three after consultation with the ministers responsible for elections and for local government. Commissioners may only be removed by the King for incompetence or misbehaviour on the recommendation of the Judicial Services Commission[7].
Demarcation The EBC is resposible for the demarcation of the 55 constituencies known as tinkundhla; boundaries are reviewed very 5 years, one year before election of the House of Assembly[8].
Voter registration Periodic registration.
Registration of voters takes place at public meetings. In chiefdoms this is done in the presence of the Chief and his council, at the chief's kraal, who vouch for the prospective voter's eligibility. In urban areas it is done in the presence of the Indvuna Yenkhundla (elected head of the inkhundla). Registration is done by a registration officer or an electoral officer who receive the information publicly and orally, writes it down on a registration form and issues the voter with a certificate of registration. The voters name and address is then entered on voters' roll for that inkhundla[9].
Voter education The Elections and Boundaries Commission is responsible for facilitating civic and voter education[10].
Nomination of candidates House of Assembly elections: The voters of each of several chiefdoms in an inkhundla nominate candidates to stand for election. Nominations must be endorsed by 15 voters registered in that inkhundla[11].
Funding of political parties Political parties are banned, but see Political Parties[12].
Election campaign Campaigning is restricted to the period between the primary elections and the secondary election and election meetings are restricted to brief public addresses by candidates in turn at meetings organised in each chiefdom[13]. No other measures affecting campaigning have been enacted except for prohibitions on [14]
Communication There are no regulations governing coverage of candidates by the public media[15].
Counting After the close of the poll the presiding officer seals all the documentation and ballot boxes and forwards them to the returning officer. The returning officer gives notice to the candidates or their agents informing them of when and where the count is to take place. After checking that nothing has been tampered with the returning officer proceed to count the votes in the presence of candidates and/or their agents[16].
Announcement of results At the inkhundla, or constituency level the Returning Officer announces results publicly outside the counting station. The results are forwarded to the Elections and Boundaries Commission. The Elections and Boundaries Commission is responsible for announcing the result at the national level and must publish them in the Gazette[17].
Conflict resolution The EBC is not tasked with hearing disputes, nor is there any specific legislation governing dispute resolution, so election petitions are heard by the High Court[18].
Election monitoring National and international observers are accredited by the EBC and international observers are issued with a code of conduct at accreditation[19].

Table notes

[1] Constitution 2005; Matlosa 2003, 2.
[2] Constitution 2005, Articles 84, 87(1), 88.
[3] Constitution 2005, Articles 79-80. For a fuller description of the system see Karume (2003a), 20-22, and Olaleye 2003, 21-28.
[4] Constitution 2005, Article 134(2).
[5] Constitution 2005, Article 90(1).
[6] Constitution 2005, Article 90(7).
[7] Constitution 2005, Articles 90(1), (10) cf Article 158.
[8] Constitution 2005, Article 90(1), (5); 91.
[9] Voters Registration Order 1992, 5.
[10] Constitution 2005, 90(7)(b).
[11] Elections Order 1992, 5.
[12] Proclamation No 7 1973.
[13] This was the arrangement made by the Establishment of the Parliament of Swaziland Order, 1992, 12(4). Though the Order has been effectively been superceeded by the Constitution of 2005, which guarantees freedom of expression, assembly, association and movement (Articles 24-26), the practice persists.
[14] For observations on the 2003 election campaign see Karume 2003b, 14-18.
[15] In 2003 contesting candidates observed that "there seemed to have been some collaboration to ensure that both the Swaziland Broadcasting Corporation and other privately owned broadcasting stations gave aspiring MPs equal access" (Karume2003b, 17).
[16] Elections Order 1992, 40-45.
[17] Elections Order 1992, 49, 50; the Order specifies the Chief Electoral Officer as the recipient of results, but the new Constitution replaces this office with the EBC.
[18] Karume 2003b, 14, 15.
[19] EBC Undated Code of Conduct for International Observers. The law is silent on the subject of national and international observers. Nevertheless, EISA observers to the 2008 House of Assembly elections were acredited by the EBC and informed by national observers that they had also been acredited by the EBC.


CONSTITUTION OF THE KINGDOM OF SWAZILAND 2005, [www] http://aceproject.org/ regions-en/eisa/SZ/CONSTITUTION%20OF%20THE%20KINGDOM%20OF% 20SWAZILAND%202005.pdf [opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).



EBC UNDATED Code of Conduct for International Observers.

KARUME, S 2003a "Swaziland's Electoral Process" IN Election Update: Swaziland 2003 No 1.

KARUME, S 2003b "Post-mortem of the Swaziland General Election of 2003" IN EISA Election Update: Swaziland 2003 No 2 [PDF document].

MATLOSA K 2003 "The Legal and Institutional Architecture for the Swaziland Election 2003" IN EISA Election Update: Swaziland 2003 No 2 [PDF document].

OLALEYE, W 2003 "Chiefdom Politics vs Electoral Processes in Swaziland" IN Election Update: Swaziland 2003 No 2 [PDF document].

PROCLAMATION NO 7 1973 of 12 April.