Kingdom of eSwatini : Constitution and politics


National monarchy
6 September 1968

Under the 2006 constitution the Kingdom of eSwatini is an absolute monarchy. The monarch appoints the Prime Minister and approves the cabinet and can veto legislation and dissolve Parliament, though since July 2005 he can no longer rule by decree.

Under the tinkhundla electoral system, which was introduced in 1978 and amended in 1993 and 2005, there is a bicameral Parliament. The House of Assembly has up to 65 members, ten (including at least five women) appointed by the monarch and 55 elected by universal adult suffrage from a list provided by the tinkhundla (tribal or community committees). The Senate has up to 30 members, with ten chosen by the House of Assembly (including at least five women) and 20 by the monarch (at least eight women).

In each of the 55 tinkhundla, numerous candidates are nominated by show of hands; these are then reduced in secret ballots to three candidates per tinkhundla; the 55 Assembly members are elected in a general election.

The 2006 constitution made provision for an independent judiciary and for human rights, including freedom of assembly and association, but it made no reference to political parties.


House of Assembly and Senate elections for the pre-selected candidates were held in October 2003 and the turnout was low, especially in urban areas. A Commonwealth expert team was present. It said that while there were shortcomings ‘the elections were well conducted’, but that ‘no elections can be credible when they are for a Parliament which does not have power and when political parties are banned’. In September 2018 King Mswati III confirmed A. T. Dlamini as Prime Minister for a third term.

A new constitution – drafted by the Constitutional Review Commission, chaired by Prince David Dlamini – was approved by Parliament and signed by the King in July 2005. It came into effect in February 2006.

In the first elections under the new constitution, a new Parliament was elected in September 2008. The election was observed by a Commonwealth expert team. The King appointed Dr Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini as Prime Minister; he had previously served in that position 1996–2003.

In the parliamentary elections, held on 20 September 2013, 55 members were elected, 12 of whom were returned, including only two of the six government ministers. The King reappointed Dr Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini as Prime Minister.

He was then appointed for a third term, by the king, on 17 September 2013.

Head of government

The Hon Dr Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, Prime Minister
HE Dr Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini who was appointed for a third term, by the King, on 17 September 2013. As Prime Minister, Dr Dlamini serves as the Chairman of the Cabinet, the Leader of Government Business in Parliament and is responsible for keeping the King of eSwatini informed on government affairs. He had also served as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2003. He has served in politics as a Senator in Swaziland from 1978-1983 and has also served as a Member of the King’s Advisory Council from 2003-2008. He has also served as Minister of Finance from 1983-1992. Dr Dlamini worked with Coopers & Lybrand Accountants Swaziland from 1978 to 1984. He also served a Delegate to the United Nations from 1978-1981. He has also been an Alternate Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund from 1992-1994 and Executive Director from 1994-1996. He studied Economics, Accounting and Chemistry in the United States and South Africa. He was born on 15 May 1942.