Swaziland’s oldest political party says it will test the country’s new constitution to see if it marks the end of prohibition of political opposition. The opposition parties complain that it’s vague on the issue of legalization. So the head of the party the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) says he will officially register his organization.
The new constitution was put together by the Constitutional Review Commission, headed by King Mswati's brother, Prince Mangaliso Dlamini. Prince Dlamini recently said the time is not right for the return of political parties -- and that only individuals can run for parliament.
Government spokesman Tercy Simelane told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje the NNLC leaders should proceed with registering their party with the appropriate office. He says, “If they have a problem with the registering offices, they have the liberty to go to court.” Simelane says, “The government has done its part drafting the constitution, the legislature has passed the constitution, and then the courts need to do their part, interpreting.”
The spokesman justifies the absence of a multiparty system in Swaziland: “We tried political parties soon after independence, but from the look of things, it didn’t work for us. It divided families in a very small country, and the nation decided it was not our way of life.” He says the decision to abandon political parties was preceded by a parliamentary debate in which the people’s voices were heard.
Looking ahead, Simelane says, “Like any constitution anywhere in the world, the current constitution will be amended if and when the need arises.”