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Former union leader secures Swazi seat

Durban - Jan Sithole, the former head of Swaziland’s labour movement, was one of the prominent personalities to win a seat in the country’s parliament in elections on Friday.

Two-thirds of the cabinet ministers lost in their constituencies, according to the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

King Mswati III of Swaziland. Credit: AFP

The elections were held for 55 seats for a parliament that does not make laws or governance policies – that is done by King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The king will now appoint 10 MPs to look after royal interests in the House of Assembly and 20 of the Senate’s 30 members.

The remaining senators will be selected by the House of Assembly from the ranks of elected and appointed MPs. No Senate member is voted directly into office by the public.

In the late 1990s, when Sithole was secretary-general of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, he was instrumental in shutting Swaziland for up to a week at a time when the public heeded calls for strikes in protest against the undemocratic government.

The government could not shut down the labour movement because Swaziland could get international donor aid only as a signatory to UN accords on workers’ rights. - Independent Foreign Service

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