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Key findings
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of Swazis say that political parties create division and confusion, and it’s therefore unnecessary to have many of them in Swaziland. The proportion endorsing this view has increased by 6 percentage points since 2013.
  • Less than half (45%) of Swazis prefer democracy over all other kinds of political systems, the third-lowest level of support among 36 African countries surveyed in 2014/2015. But strong majorities reject one-party rule (65%), military rule (86%), and the abolition of elections and Parliament so that the king can decide everything (79%).
  • Only one-third (33%) of Swazis see their country as “a full democracy” (6%) or “a democracy, but with minor problems” (27%), a slight decrease from 2013. Almost as many (31%) say Swaziland is not a democracy at all.
  • Public satisfaction with “the way democracy works” in Swaziland has decreased from 36% in 2013 to 28% in 2015.

If supporters of democratic reform in Swaziland see multiparty competition as the path to a more transparent and accountable government, they face an uphill struggle: Almost two-thirds of citizens say multiple political parties are divisive and unnecessary in Swaziland.

After two years of “monarchical democracy,” fewer than half of Swazis surveyed by Afrobarometer express support for democracy over all other political systems. At the same time, strong majorities reject non-democratic alternatives. Public satisfaction with the way democracy is working in their country is declining, and almost one-third say Swaziland is not a democracy at all.

Sipho Kunene

Sipho Kunene is the co-national investigator for Eswatini