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The Repeal of the 1968 Westminster Style Constitution in Swaziland * Lorraine D’souza

HIS 110 A
Samuel Goodfellow
March 20th 2012

World history paper
The kingdom of Swaziland gained its independence on the 6th of September 1968. Soon After independence, in 1973 king Sobhuza ІІ abolished the Westminster style constitution that Swaziland had inherited from the British colonial masters. He had in his mind to develop a uniquely Swazi system of government, in which no political parties featured. The king justified his actions as having removed alien and disruptive political practices in compatible with the Swazi way of life. In 1973 the king assumed all powers of government and prohibited all political activities and trade unions from operating, an action which constantly arouses doubts towards the need for a new constitution. The focus of this thesis poses the question; Was the 1968 Constitution repealed because it led to instability in the political system of Swaziland or because it displayed a threat to the absolute Monarchy system of the country? To fully and accurately judge the need for a constitution many factors shall have to be taken into consideration and studied in depth. These include firstly, looking at the Swazi traditional system, then the provisions of the Westminster style constitution and what did they mean, then we shall look at opposition parties and their outcome, the response and opinions of the king, and finally the general public view of Swazi people towards the new constitution. The Swazi Traditional political system

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The first Swazi political system emerged from Ngwane ІІІ, who crossed the wilds of the Lubombo mountains and settled in a reserve called the Ngwavuma reserve, which was at that time known to be Swaziland. After his death many of the Swazis that were inspired by him and loved him called themselves to be “bantfu baka Ngwane or the people of Ngwane”1. From there itself was established a bloodline from which the kings of Swaziland followed. In the very early stage, the political power of Swaziland was vested in the king (Ngwenyama) and the queen mother (Ndlovukazi) who was the mother of the king. This rose to an immense dual monarchy which performed all legislative, administrative, executive, judicial and religious tasks. The power amongst them was almost coequal and both rulers consulted each other when decision making is needed. It should be noted however, that a man’s rule was renowned to be more significant as compared to a woman’s. As time progressed however, the king 1 Scutt, J. F. (1983 4th revised edition) The Story Of Swaziland. Mbabane Swaziland: Webster (Pty) Ltd. p.16

received a western education and the Queen mother took the place of an advisor and helped with political tasks. A more western education of the king also led to the political situation of the country changing to a westernized mix of constitutional structures. Two main councils emerged and constituted to the political structure of the traditional political system: the Libandla and the Liqoqo. The Libandla was general council and the Liqoqo was the inner council and was the subset of the Libandla. The Liqoqo was the most secretive council and its members were appointed by king Sobhuza ІІ himself. The significant members of the loqoqo at the time, were the king’s principal uncle, the Tindvuna(helper) of the chief and other princes and chiefs. This council had no appointed meetings nor was its membership limited to a specific number. Its membership was also kept highly secretive. Their presence was structured to assemble only help when a need arises (usually in times of an emergency or a crisis). The king normally abided by the decision of the inner council but there were no certain rules displaying the kings obedience to the Liqoqo’s was necessary. After all, he acts “not as a personal ruler, but as a king-in-council”2. The Libandla or the Swazi national...
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