Widows in Swaziland are allowed to stand in the 2018 nation elections but if they are elected they must stay away from King Mswati III.
In the past, widows have been discriminated against at election time because Swazi custom dictates women in mourning are not allowed to hold public office.
Elections and Boundaries Commission commissioner Ncumbi Maziya told a voter education meeting at Bulandzeni Chiefdom that women in mourning had a constitutional right to stand for election.
However, the Swazi Observer (3 April 2017) reported, ‘He said a person wearing a mourning gown was not allowed to be near His Majesty the King. If a certain constituency elected a person in such a situation, it was highly possible that the woman could not attend the Parliament opening event, where the King would also be in attendance. Maziya said that was when a woman would have to exercise conscience by at least standing by the gate of Parliament, to avoid being near the King.’
There was a major row at the election in 2013 when Dumisani Dlamini a chief’s headman in Ludzibini, an area ruled by Chief Magudvulela a former Swazi Senator, threatened people would be banished from their homes if they nominated Jennifer du Pont, a widow, for the upcoming election.
The Times Sunday reported at the time, ‘[Dlamini] warned that those who would nominate her should be prepared to relocate to areas as distant as five chiefdoms away. Her sin was that she attended the nominations only a few months after her husband died.’
The newspaper reported, ‘He said she should still be mourning her husband.’
The Times reported Du Pont did not wear standard black mourning gowns and was dressed in a blue wrap-around dress known as sidvwashi.
Enough people in the chiefdom defied Dlamini and Ms du Pont was duly nominated.
Elsewhere, during the primary elections nomination held in August 2013, an 18-year-old woman was denied the chance to be nominated to stand for parliament because she attended the nomination centre dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.
In another case a woman was not allowed to nominate a candidate because she was wearing cargo pants.
WOMAN IN PANTS BANNED FROM ELECTION