Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Swaziland

Key facts:

POPULATION (2015 est.): 1,119,375
AREA: 17,366 sq km
CAPITAL: Lobamba (royal and legislative); Mbabane (administrative)
CURRENCY: Swazi lilangeni (SZL)
HEAD OF STATE: HM King Mswati III
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: constitutional monarchy
PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM: bicameral
STATE STRUCTURE: unitary
LANGUAGES: English (official), Siswati
NATIONAL ELECTIONS: last: September 2013 turnout: na next: 2018
LOCAL ELECTIONS: last: 2012 turnout: na next: 2017
WOMEN COUNCILLORS: 13% (2015)
LOCAL GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE (as a percentage of total government expenditure 2013/14): 2.7%

Summary

Swaziland is a constitutional monarchy with two spheres of government: national and local. Local government is enshrined in the constitution and the main governing legislation is the Urban Government Act 1969. Responsibility for local government rests with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and there are 13 urban local authorities and 55 rural councils called tinkhundla. 

All councils are members of the Swaziland Local Government Association (SWALGA), formerly the Swaziland National Association of local Authorities. A national decentralisation policy was adopted in 2006. The municipalities hold revenue-raising and budget-setting powers whilst the tinkhundla do not. Local government responsibilities include town planning, water and sanitation, waste management and environmental protection. 

A bill is currently before parliament which will replace the Urban Government Act with a new piece of all-inclusive local government legislation. It will also give legal status to the rural tinkhundla. The MHUD is producing two new sets of guidelines: one on Local Economic Development and one on Public- Private Partnerships for Local Government.

CLGF activities in Swaziland

CLGF is working with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, SWALGA and three Municipalities (Mbabane, Manzini and Matsapha) on an LED pilot project underway as part of the wider DIFD funded programme supporting local governance and local economic development.  The pilot is targeted towards strengthening the institutional framework to facilitate LED, and use work at the local level to demonstrate practical actions and policies that local government can undertake to support LED. 

Work at the local level has seen a number of key outcomes including Mbabane, Manzini  and Matsapha having developed comprehensive LED strategies. 

CLGF members in Swaziland

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