Swaziland: Wither absolute monarchism?
Swaziland has retained and continues to indefinitely retain its controversial status as an absolute constitutional monarchy. It is the only country in Africa with such a ‘distinctly maverick’ political order. The country’s political establishment is regarded by many critics as ‘archaic.’ There is not a vestige of doubt that there is a constant contest between the ancient norms and practices on which the Swazi monarchy is anchored and the progressive forces of democracy and fundamental freedoms which have become the linchpin of the contemporary political order. Swaziland is very rich in a diversity of cultural beliefs and practices which have been subjected to censorious criticism because of their patent incompatibility with contemporary fundamental freedoms. The international community as well as some critical sections of the Swazi community have made many calls for Swaziland to transform to a multi-party state. Contrary to the calls for democratic reforms, the Swazi monarchy has not moved an inch from its traditional position that multi-party politics is ‘divisive’ and ‘incompatible’ with Swazi tradition and therefore ‘undesirable’ in the kingdom. It is important to note that tradition is not static, it changes over time and space and that these changes are not negotiable. That tradition changes is what makes societies progressive.