Image: REUTERS/Esa Alexander

Eswatini- Eswatini, under decades of tough rule by Africa’s last absolute monarch, was still able to put together a flawless election Friday, a SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) has noted in its report.

The kingdom held general elections to elect parliamentarians, heads of constituencies and councillors.

In its preliminary report presented Sunday, SEOM said all aspects of the poll held without political parties were peaceful and well-organised.

Former Zambia vice president Enock Kavindele headed the mission to Eswatini.

SEOM commented Eswatini people for being peaceful during the pre-election period and on voting day.

“In conclusion, the Mission observed that the pre-election and voting phases, on the 29th September, 2023 General Elections were peaceful, calm and well organised in line with the Revised SADC Guidelines and Principles Governing Democratic Elections.

“Finally, the Mission commends the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for maintaining a peaceful political environment during the pre-election and on voting day,” said the group.

On polling day, SEOM observed that the environment at the polling stations was calm and peaceful and 93 percent of the polling stations opened on time.

The group said voting progressed smoothly notwithstanding issues relating to the electronic voters roll, which delayed the voting process at some polling stations.

The mission however observed that the positioning of the ballot booths was such that it did not strictly guarantee the secrecy of the vote at some polling stations.

Elections in the kingdom are unique as they are not based on political party affiliation, with participation based on nomination or invitation to serve “on the basis of being known to that community”.

Campaigns for the poll were limited to two weeks and there were no rallies in the kingdom where political parties have been banned for 50 years.

Candidates for the 59 parliamentary seats were running without party labels and were said to be ‘loyal’ to the King.

Parliamentary elections are held every five years.

The SEOM report on Eswatini polls was in stark contrast to its report on Zimbabwe’s 23 August elections which were said to be chaotic and not representative of the will of the people.

Zimbabwe’s poll, which saw incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa keep his job on a disputed 52,6 percent majority vote, saw intimidation and unprecedented delays in the delivery of ballot papers in some stronghold opposition constituencies by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), among a slew of irregularities flagged by observers.

Zimbabwean authorities, who were riled by the mission report, resorted to issuing insults on SADC Troika chair and Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema who assigned the neighbouring country’s former vice President Nevers Mumba to head the mission to Zimbabwe.