THE SADC Lawyers Association (SADC-LA) has questioned the legal framework governing the elections in the country. One of the issues highlighted was the promulgation of the six electoral laws, which received Royal assent just weeks before the elections. The mission has since released its preliminary statement on its observation, and a full report is to be released at the end of the month. In its summary of findings, the mission questioned the legal framework governing or related to the elections, including the Constitution. The SADC LA noted that enactment of the six electoral laws weeks before the start of the primary elections may have had an adverse effect on voter education and in the capacity of the election officers to discharge their responsibilities in accordance with the newly-enacted legislation, because they may not have been aware of the new legislation. The observers also stated that the promulgation of the Acts did not provide enough time for the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) and civil society groups to conduct civic education on the elections.
“SADC LA also noted the promulgation of the following six (6) electoral acts which came into force just weeks before the primary elections, following enactment by Parliament and assent by His Majesty the King: Elections Act, 2013; Elections and Boundaries Commission Act, 2013; Elections Expenses Act, 2013; Voters’ Registration Act, 2013; Senate (Elections) Act, 2013; and Parliament Petitions Act, 2013. In this instance, the date of assent raises serious questions over the practical amount of time available to the EBC and civil society groups to conduct a thorough voter education, bearing in mind that voter education ended before the primary elections.
In this regard, the SADC LA would like to underscore that voter education in Swaziland, like in other African countries, is a priority,” reads part of the statement.
The SADC LA said the timing of the promulgation of the Acts deprived candidates and other interested parties of the opportunity to appeal cases they lost in the courts.
Full Article: The Swazi Observer.