If you were a diplomat seated in the African Union headquarters and wondering what's happening in eSwatini, what would be your first point of reference to get a lay of the land? One way is to phone someone in the country, provided you have local contacts.

However, this method can be costly and might offer only subjective opinions based on the person's political orientation. The second and easier option is to browse the internet to familiarize yourself with the basics of the country and access contemporary information or reports. Perhaps you may wish to visit the country's political parties to understand their manifesto, leadership, policy positions, and their perspectives on political events.

This holds true for anyone interested in joining a party or for researchers seeking deeper insights into the policy offerings of political parties in the country. A basic website should provide information about the party's leadership, policy positions, manifestos, contact details, and perhaps include pictures showcasing the party's activities and events, demonstrating its active engagement in the country.

Given that most of the country's parties issue regular statements, one would expect to find such statements on their websites too. So, we conducted a quick scan of the internet to determine if the country's political parties have any online presence and whether their statements are reaching beyond a small circle on social media.

The results were disappointing, not only because most of the websites are outdated but also because a majority of political parties either lack websites altogether or have websites that have long been suspended or remain un-updated. Here is a brief score sheet for each party, judged on aesthetics, regular website updates, and the availability of comprehensive information about the party that can enable one to form an opinion on the party's ideological outlook and political position on issues.

CPS: The party can be found at https://cpswadotorg.wordpress.com/.

The most serious party in terms of cyber presence. The party's website includes a gallery showcasing their activities on the ground and an extensive archive of previous newsletters. Although the website appears to have recent information, it is not regularly updated. Aesthetically, the website lacks appeal due to the black font on a red background, which strains the eyes.

However, this aligns with the party's brand and colours. Nevertheless, the fact that the website is hosted on Wordpress and employs varying font sizes across different pages indicates a lack of professionalism in the project as a whole. Overall, the website can be rated 5/10.

PUDEMO: Despite claiming their website to be www.pudemo.net on their letterheads and public communications, the actual website that is active is www.pudemo.org.

This discrepancy is confusing. Moreover, the visible website appears stale and resembles a template for a beginner's guide to website development taught to first-year IT students. We give them 1/10.

SWALIMO: Their website SWALIMO does not resemble a party website at first glance. One might mistake it for a community smallholder farmer's cooperative website.

They even have a classifieds section, which seems out of place on a party website. However, to their credit, they provide the party's founding charter, an important document to include on a website. Aesthetically, the website is a work in progress but lacks appeal. We give them 3/10.

Swazis First Democratic Front: The organization's website, https://swazisfirst.org/, is the only one that takes itself seriously.

The website is aesthetically pleasing and offers a clear profile of party leaders, but it falls short on updates. For example, they still list Gift Dlamini as their Secretary General, which is not the current position. Additionally, their website lacks their manifesto or other important documents. While we may excuse this oversight as they are relatively new, they should have a manifesto available.

They deserve a rating of 6/10.

SWADEPA: No website. 0/10.

Sive Siyinqaba: No website. 0/10.

NNLC: No website. 0/10.

SPLM: No website. 0/10.

EFFSWA: No website. 0/10.

If the country is to take seriously those who promise an alternative future, then they must start by addressing the basics, so that both the people and the world can begin to take them seriously.