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Swaziland - Government


Nkosi I 13551400
Ngwane I 14001435
Dlamini I (Matalatala) 14351465
Mswati I 14801520
Ngwane II 15201550
Dlamini II 15551600
Nkosi II 16001640
Mavuso I 16451680
Magudulela 16851685
Ludvonga 16851715
Dlamini III 17201744
Ngwane III 17451780
Ndvungunye (Zikodze)17801815
Ngwane IV (Sobhuza I)(Somhlolo)18151836
Queen Lojiba Simelane -Regent18361840
Mswati II (Mavuso II)1840Jul 1865
Queen Thandile Ndwandwe -Regent Jul 1868Jun 1875
Ludvonga II (Macaleni)18681872
Dlamini IV (Mbandzeni)Jun 1875 7 Oct 1889
Queen Tibati Nkambule -Regent 7 Oct 1889Feb 1895
Ngawane V (Bhunu)19 Feb 189510 Dec 1899
Queen Labotsibeni10 Dec 189922 Dec 1921
Sobhuza II (Nkhotfotjeni)22 Dec 192121 Aug 1982
Queen Dzeliwe Shongwe -Regent 21 Aug 1982 9 Aug 1983
Prince Sozisa Dlamini9 Aug 198318 Aug 1983
Queen Ntombi Tfwala -Regent18 Aug 198325 Apr 1986
Mswati III25 Apr 1986 ...

On July 26, 2005 King Mswati III ratified Swaziland's first constitution in over 30 years. It went into effect February 8, 2006; a 1973 proclamation that had banned political parties lapsed at that time. While the current constitution does not prohibit the existence of political parties, parties are not allowed to contest elections.

According to Swazi law and custom, the monarch holds supreme executive, legislative, and judicial powers. In practice, however, the monarch's power is delegated through a dualistic system--modern, statutory bodies like the cabinet, and the traditional governing structures of the tinkhundla system. The king must approve legislation passed by parliament before it becomes law. The prime minister, who is head of government, and the cabinet, which is recommended by the prime minister and approved by the king, exercise executive authority. At present, parliament consists of a 65-seat House of Assembly (55 members are elected through popular vote; 10 are appointed by the king) and 30-seat Senate (10 members are appointed by the House of Assembly, and 20 are appointed by the king). House of Assembly elections were last held on September 19, 2008. King Mswati III appointed a new cabinet on October 24, 2008.

The Constitution confirms most of the King's powers; exempts the King, Queen Mother, and the senior prince from the law; and makes insufficient provision for separation of powers. However, it does provide for a fairly comprehensive list of fundamental rights and freedoms, most of which were not previously protected by any law. It also promotes women to the status of legal adults, and states that a woman cannot be forced to comply with a tradition to which she in conscience objects.

Swaziland has a ruling monarchy, composed of heads of state King Mswati III and the Queen Mother. They are revered in this deeply traditional society. The King holds Swazi land in trust for the nation, and parcels it out through the 366 chiefs whom he appoints and who represent him at the local level. Despite the King holding absolute authority, he is not in total control of the GKOS decision-making process.

The King has a tightly-knit group of advisors (Swazi National Council) who filter information passed from Government Ministers to the King, and all responses from the King to the Ministers. Members of the National Council are staunch traditionalists, and many are Christian Pentecostal ministers, traditional chiefs or healers, and former conservative government officials. Few have experience with international travel, some are illiterate, and most are anti-democratic in the Western definition of the word.

The King appoints two-thirds of the Senate and 10 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, and must assent to any legislation passed by the Parliament before it can become law. He appoints the Prime Minister (PM) and the other members of the Cabinet (on the PM's recommendation), and can dissolve Parliament at any time. The Parliament has not taken action on many laws which must be amended to bring them into conformity with the 2006 Constitution, causing conflicts in application. Mswatis hand-picked advisory council, the Liqoqo, can veto parliamentary measures.

For local administration Swaziland is divided into four regions, each with an administrator appointed by the king. Parallel to the government structure is the traditional system consisting of the king and his advisers, traditional courts, 55 tinkhundla (sub-regional districts in which traditional chiefs are grouped), and approximately 360 chiefdoms.

The Swazi judiciary is perceived locally as independent and impartial. The country has two parallel legal systems: Swazi Law and Custom, and Roman Dutch Law, resembling that of South Africa. Swazi National Courts apply Swazi law and custom on minor offenses, inheritance and land disputes. The King appoints the judiciary on the recommendation of the Judicial Services Commission. The GKOS has not obviously interfered in the judiciary's independence recently, but the judiciary usually delays delivery of decisions on controversial political cases calling for interpretation of the constitution. The court system chronically suffers from insufficient funding, but in 2009 the number of Supreme Court judges climbed from three to nine.

The swaziland legal system is composed of traditional Swazi nation courts and western-style magistrate courts. There had been a gradual increase in the scope and importance of the traditional courts, which in theory are only to deal with tribal affairs. The most significant area is muti (ritual) murder, which seemed to be on the increase. Many of these cases went to the traditional courts to be treated as a tribal offense rather than as homicide. The Swazi Government cannot move to genuinely attack muti-murder as it is inherently part of the traditional culture.

The traditional courts operate under traditional authorities, including local chiefs. In general chiefs preside over traditional courts as court presidents. Traditional courts hear both civil and minor criminal matters. Although by law the courts may not impose fines above 240 emalangeni ($16) and prison sentences above 12 months, there were reported cases in which traditional courts imposed sentences exceeding these limits.

Traditional courts are empowered to administer customary law only insofar as it is not repugnant to natural justice or morality or inconsistent with the provisions of any civil law in force, but some traditional laws and practices violate civil laws, particularly those involving womens and childrens rights. Defendants in traditional courts are not permitted formal legal counsel but may speak on their own behalf, call witnesses, and be assisted by informal advisors. Traditional law and custom provide for an appeals process, but the process is long and cumbersome. Judicial commissioners within the traditional legal system may adjudicate appeals or refer appeals to a court within the civil judicial system on their own volition or if desired by plaintiffs or defendants.

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Page last modified: 03-05-2017 19:10:58 ZULU