Swaziland is Africa's only remaining absolute
monarchy, where the king has almost unlimited power. In
practice, party bans prevail and both the parliament and
the judiciary are subjected to strong pressure from the
royal house. A democracy movement struggles to change
the system through strikes and protest actions.
The current constitution of 2006 was adopted after a
period of extensive demonstrations for democracy. It
emphasizes the freedoms and rights of citizens to a
somewhat greater extent than the previous constitution
of 1978. In essence, however, the king is still
Total population and chart of Swaziland for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The royal power is hereditary and has been held ever
since the 18th century by the Dlamini family dynasty.
The country's current monarch, Mswati III, has been
sitting on the throne since 1986. Formally, the king
shares power with his mother, the widow queen Ntombi.
For his help in the exercise of power, the king has a
council, the Swazi National Council (liqoqo), which he
himself designates. The king is head of state and
appoints the country's government. Many of the
ministers, including the prime minister, belong to the
royal family. In addition, the monarch owns all land in
There is a parliament, which in theory should
establish the laws of the country. However, the king has
the right to veto all legislative proposals and thus
stop new laws. The monarch can also dissolve Parliament
at any time. In practice, Parliament's functions are
limited to debating government proposals and giving
advice to the king.
Parliament has two chambers: the lower house
(National Assembly) with a maximum of 76 members and the
upper house (senate), which has a maximum of 31 members.
A maximum of 10 members of the National Assembly are
appointed by the King, who often chooses his own
relatives. Half of these should be women. A maximum of
60 members of the National Assembly are elected in
general elections according to a complicated two-step
system (tinkhundla) every five years. (In 2018, 59
members were elected.) Only royal chiefs can nominate
candidates for the House of Commons. The National
Assembly also includes a woman from each of the
country's four regions and the Minister of Justice.
Among the senators, 20 are appointed by the King (of
whom at least 8 should be women) and 10 by the National
Assembly (half of which should be women).
At the local level, traditional parishes (tinkhundla),
led by chieftains.
By a royal decree in the spring of 1973, party
political activity was banned. The ban was confirmed in
the constitution which came into force in 1978. The 2006
constitution does not mention political parties, whose
status is thus unclear. However, parties cannot
participate in elections to the National Assembly. Only
personal choices are held.
Despite the fact that party bans prevail in practice,
several opposition groups have been formed. The People's
United Democratic Movement (People's United Democratic
Movement, Pudemo) and its Youth Federation Swaziland
Youth Congress (Swaziland Youth Congress, Swayoco)
operates mainly from South Africa. Other opposition
groups are Ngwane National Liberation Congress (Ngwane
National Liberatory Congress, NNLC), Swaziland Communist
Party, Ngwane Revolutionary Socialist Party (Ngwane
Socialist Revolutionary Party, NGWASOREP), Swaziland
National Front (Swaziland National Front, Swan
(Swaziland National Progressive Party, SNPP). In 2006,
the African United Democratic Party (AUDP) was founded.
Swaziland Democratic Party (Swaziland Democratic Party,
Swadepa) was formed in 2011. A conservative and
democracy-friendly group is Sive Siyinqaba Sibahle Sinje.
Several of these cooperate in the umbrella organization
Swaziland's Democratic Alliance (Swaziland Democratic
The opposition's common goal is to transform
Swaziland into a democracy with multi-party systems,
where the government is appointed by parliament and the
king has representative duties. The demands are mostly
channeled through trade unions. The largest trade union
central organization is Tucuswa (Trade Union Congress of
Swaziland), which has close links with the South African
national organization Cosatu. An important role is also
played by the Swaziland Coalition of Committed Citizens'
Organizations (Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civil
Organizations, SCCCO), which includes a number of
business organizations, voluntary organizations and
The judicial system consists of a judicial system of
European incisions and local councils that adjudicate on
traditional customary law. The Supreme Court is the
Supreme Court. Although the king appoints its judge, it
has happened that the Supreme Court has been at odds
with the royal power.
Swaziland is criticized by the outside world for lack
of respect for human rights. Some examples that are
often given are the ban on political parties, the lack
of democracy, restrictions on media freedom and
discrimination against women. The death penalty can be
imposed. The last execution was executed in 1983.