Short for WZ by Abbreviationfinder, Swaziland is Africa’s only remaining absolute monarchy, where the king has almost unlimited power. In practice, party bans prevail and both the parliament and the judiciary are subjected to strong pressure from the royal house. A democracy movement struggles to change the system through strikes and protest actions.
The current constitution of 2006 was adopted after a period of extensive demonstrations for democracy. It emphasizes the freedoms and rights of citizens to a somewhat greater extent than the previous constitution of 1978. In essence, however, the king is still single-handed.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Swaziland for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The royal power is hereditary and has been held ever since the 18th century by the Dlamini family dynasty. The country’s current monarch, Mswati III, has been sitting on the throne since 1986. Formally, the king shares power with his mother, the widow queen Ntombi. For his help in the exercise of power, the king has a council, the Swazi National Council (liqoqo), which he himself designates. The king is head of state and appoints the country’s government. Many of the ministers, including the prime minister, belong to the royal family. In addition, the monarch owns all land in the country.
There is a parliament, which in theory should establish the laws of the country. However, the king has the right to veto all legislative proposals and thus stop new laws. The monarch can also dissolve Parliament at any time. In practice, Parliament’s functions are limited to debating government proposals and giving advice to the king.
Parliament has two chambers: the lower house (National Assembly) with a maximum of 76 members and the upper house (senate), which has a maximum of 31 members.
A maximum of 10 members of the National Assembly are appointed by the King, who often chooses his own relatives. Half of these should be women. A maximum of 60 members of the National Assembly are elected in general elections according to a complicated two-step system (tinkhundla) every five years. (In 2018, 59 members were elected.) Only royal chiefs can nominate candidates for the House of Commons. The National Assembly also includes a woman from each of the country’s four regions and the Minister of Justice.
Among the senators, 20 are appointed by the King (of whom at least 8 should be women) and 10 by the National Assembly (half of which should be women).
At the local level, traditional parishes (tinkhundla), led by chieftains.
By a royal decree in the spring of 1973, party political activity was banned. The ban was confirmed in the constitution which came into force in 1978. The 2006 constitution does not mention political parties, whose status is thus unclear. However, parties cannot participate in elections to the National Assembly. Only personal choices are held.
Despite the fact that party bans prevail in practice, several opposition groups have been formed. The People’s United Democratic Movement (People’s United Democratic Movement, Pudemo) and its Youth Federation Swaziland Youth Congress (Swaziland Youth Congress, Swayoco) operates mainly from South Africa. Other opposition groups are Ngwane National Liberation Congress (Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, NNLC), Swaziland Communist Party, Ngwane Revolutionary Socialist Party (Ngwane Socialist Revolutionary Party, NGWASOREP), Swaziland National Front (Swaziland National Front, Swan (Swaziland National Progressive Party, SNPP). In 2006, the African United Democratic Party (AUDP) was founded. Swaziland Democratic Party (Swaziland Democratic Party, Swadepa) was formed in 2011. A conservative and democracy-friendly group is Sive Siyinqaba Sibahle Sinje. Several of these cooperate in the umbrella organization Swaziland’s Democratic Alliance (Swaziland Democratic Alliance, SDA).
The opposition’s common goal is to transform Swaziland into a democracy with multi-party systems, where the government is appointed by parliament and the king has representative duties. The demands are mostly channeled through trade unions. The largest trade union central organization is Tucuswa (Trade Union Congress of Swaziland), which has close links with the South African national organization Cosatu. An important role is also played by the Swaziland Coalition of Committed Citizens’ Organizations (Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civil Organizations, SCCCO), which includes a number of business organizations, voluntary organizations and church communities.
The judicial system consists of a judicial system of European incisions and local councils that adjudicate on traditional customary law. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court. Although the king appoints its judge, it has happened that the Supreme Court has been at odds with the royal power.
Swaziland is criticized by the outside world for lack of respect for human rights. Some examples that are often given are the ban on political parties, the lack of democracy, restrictions on media freedom and discrimination against women. The death penalty can be imposed. The last execution was executed in 1983.