This thesis sets out to study constitutional developments in Swaziland from 1960 to 2005. Such a study has not yet been subjected to scholarly enquiry by historians. This thesis therefore sets out to fill this yawning gap in the historiography of Swaziland. In doing this longitudinal study of Swaziland s constitutional developments in the colonial and post-colonial periods, the author took into consideration the historical context, actors and processes involved. She relied heavily on primary sources including parliamentary and senatorial debates, official gazettes of the Swazi Government, Reports of the European Advisory Council and the Swazi National Council, newspapers, and oral interviews. Interviews with selected politicians and a host of legal experts were useful in illuminating cloudy constitutional issues.
This thesis revealed that Swaziland s constitutional developments under British tutelage was shaped by a concatenation of factors including the African political environment in the aftermath of World War II, Swaziland s monarchical structures, its Black-White racial composition, and its geo-political location within the sphere of influence of South Africa. These factors underscored the uniqueness of Swaziland s constitutional history.
The modern political leaders including John June Nquku, Dr. Ambrose Zwane, Sishayi Nxumalo, Clifford Nkosi and Dr. George Msibi formed political parties to capture power in the Kingdom of Swaziland from the departing British colonial authorities. They subscribed to Kwame Nkrumah s radical brand of nationalism which clamoured for immediate independence and Africa for Africans meaning the Africanisation of all sectors and services. While recognising the importance of the monarchy in Swazi society, they felt the Swazi King, as a traditional ruler, was ill-fitted for the business of modern governance and should restrict himself to traditional matters. The White Swazis operating under the European Advisory Council with Carl Todd as their leader, supported the conservative monarchy at the expense of the radical nationalists whose ideology threatened their investments in Swaziland. The Swazi monarch and the White minority, therefore, constituted an alliance to check the rising tide of radical nationalism in Swaziland. The various stakeholders could not come to a compromise from 1960 to 1963 over several constitutional issues, especially the future of the Swazi monarchy in a modern state and the issue of the exercise of popular suffrage on the basis of one-man-one vote; Britain therefore decided to impose a Constitution on Swaziland in 1963.
The imposed Constitution failed to satisfy any of the stakeholders. The conservative traditional monarchists cried foul because King Sobhuza was provided a token ceremonial role in the constitution since Britain did not expect a traditional ruler to be engaged in modern politics. The White community under Todd rejected the constitution because equal European representation was not included in it and the traditional monarchy, which they preferred to the radical political parties, was marginalised. The radical political leaders rejected the constitution on grounds that it did not provide for one-man-one vote under universal adult suffrage and also because it introduced the federation of races which favoured the White minority who were disproportionately overrepresented in the Legislature.
Britain ignored the rejection of the imposed constitution and went ahead to announce elections for June 1964. The White United Swaziland Association (USA) party and the Imbokodvo (INM) formed a coalition to contest the elections and received logistical and financial support from apartheid South Africa, while opposition parties contested the elections in dispersed ranks. Not surprisingly, the USA-INM alliance won all the seats. The initiative for the revision of the 1963 imposed constitution, therefore, fell on the two political parties in the legislature, namely the INM and the USA. The exchanges between the two allies during the constitutional debates were heated and bitter over the issue of separate electoral roll for Whites. At the end of the debates, the majority INM had its way with the establishment of a single electoral roll for all. It submitted the 1967 constitutional proposals which the British endorsed. The 1967 constitution was the penultimate constitution enacted in Swaziland which, for the first time, granted the territory full internal self-government based on a bicameral Legislature and which recognised Sobhuza as Head of State and King of Swaziland. Swaziland became independent in September 1968 under the British-tailored Westminster Constitution but the Constitution had a short life span of just five years. Two principal reasons explain the collapse of the Independence Constitution. First, Swaziland was not spared of constitutional developments in other parts of the continent where a common tendency among Anglophone independent African states was to amend, revise or alter the British-tailored Westminster Constitution and introduce a single party rule. These developments appealed to the conservative instincts of the Swazi monarchy who was no lover of the Westminster liberal democratic constitution. Second domestic developments in Swaziland led to the collapse of 1968 constitution. A dispute between the government and B. T. Ngwenya of the opposition Ngwane National Libaratory Congress after the May 1972 multiparty elections ended in court with the victory of the opposition. Sobhuza responded to this judicial decision by staging an auto-coup d état on 12 April 1973 followed by the declaration of a state of emergency. The Kingdom remained without a constitution for the next 32 years, an unprecedented constitutional void that is unrecorded in Africa s recent history. King Sobhuza ruled by the proclamation of decrees and orders-in-council. After his demise in 1982 his son, King Mswati III, continued to rule by decree until a new constitution was promulgated for Swaziland in 2005.