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Tinkhundla elections are democratic - SADC team

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MBABANE – The SADC-PF Pre-Election Technical Mission team has observed that the Tinkhundla elections are democratic. 

 Dr. Esau Chiviya, Secretary General for the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), based this observation on the fact that it was the people themselves through their votes, who determined who should represent them in Parliament.

“This is one major positive thing I can highlight about Tinkhundla as far as we have gathered since arriving in the country early this week. The system promotes electoral democracy,” said Dr Chiviya.

He was speaking at a meeting between the team and the local media, which was held at the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS) offices yesterday.  He was accompanied by his colleague Sheuneni Kurasha, Programme Manager for Democracy and Governance.
The team is in the kingdom to consult with stakeholders and get their opinion on the electoral process ahead of the poll and the count. It also assesses the political environment leading to elections. They will also be monitoring tomorrow’s Primary Elections process.

The SADC-PF will be observing Swazi elections for the first, so we are also here to learn more, particularly about Tinkhundla. We’ve met the Minister of Tinkhundla Administration and Development and we heard about the challenges encountered by the system,” explained Chiviya.
He said the kingdom with its challenges associated with the system was no exception, as other African countries experienced some too.

Furthermore, he said the Tinkhundla system really made Swaziland unique, saying the elections nomination process was also democratic. Kurasha on the other hand opined that the basic principle of democracy was based on a rule by the people themselves through choosing their leaders. He said one of the reasons for engaging stakeholders was to learn about their views and see how shortcomings, if any, can be dealt with in future.
“Otherwise for the short term the SADC-PF will rule out whether the 2013 elections were free and fair,” said Kurasha.

Meanwhile, Chiviya, talking about the issue of whether academic qualifications of nominees mattered, said this was a debate that has been going on for years, but in  democracy everyone has a right to be voted for regardless of their educational background.

He said what can perhaps compromise the performance of government was not putting importance on the academic background of officials.

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