Traditionally, modern democracies are best defined by the standard practice of regular elections.

In most societies, these elections take place every four to five, where political office aspirants are subjected to the humbling process of mandate conferral or renewal that connects them with the voters. This leads to the social contract between the governed and the governing and gives a rare chance to the electorate to hold politicians accountable on their promises.

Incontrovertibly, elections enable voters to choose their political leaders and/or to hold them accountable for their performance in office. This competitive process of selecting leaders forces candidates or their organizations to unpack their performance files and persuade the electorates concerning their future intentions when they assume power, and these ideas or goals are subjected to popular scrutiny.

It is for that reason that elections serve as forums for the discussion of public issues and facilitate the expression of public opinion on national issues, thereby providing political education for citizens and ensuring the responsiveness of governments to the will of the people.

Former Senator Vuka Moi moi Masilela

It is also from national elections, through the presentation of manifestos and public discussion between the candidates and the voters that politicians wield their legitimacy to do the things that they do when they get into office. In a democratically conflicted election like in eSwatini, where the election leaves a lot to be desired insofar as democratic values are concerned, those who join the race to political office, either as bucopho, tindvuna, or MPs, are also subjected to the campaigning process, albeit resulting into a situation where they do not wield much power when they succeed in the race.

The national elections in eSwatini take place every five years, although within the ambits of a discredited political system with structural flaws, as alluded to by credible international institutions like the Commonwealth and the European Union, among others. But the election takes place nonetheless and the people vote for some of the politicians.

It has been quite interesting to watch politicians campaigning in the past few weeks, through speeches, food parcel distributions, roadshows, and multi-media tools. These men and women have received insults, and complaints and people vented their frustrations around failures of the system during the exercises. Anyways, such comes with the package – politicians are ‘trained’ to stomach the pain, anger, and frustrations of the people, especially during the campaign period.

Former Minister of Commerce Mancoba Khumalo

That is why there is a huge difference between a politician who is elected by the people and those appointed. Come to think of it, the golden politicians enjoy royal appointments and never get to experience the real life and experiences of ordinary Swazi because they do not campaign. While the rest of the aspiring politicians have been desperate for votes in the communities, some of these appointed politicians might have been enjoying the comfort of their homes or holidaying somewhere.

Think of someone like wife to puissant businessman Michelo Shakantu, Pholile, who might even be least bothered by following the entire electoral process but who might surprise many as Deputy Prime Minister or even Prime Minister! The same can be said of Neal Rijkenberg who might be enjoying life on his farm but hoping for a comeback at cabinet to control the national purse. For this, he does not need to convince any voter about anything; he simply has to be in the good books of the appointing authority of the land – the King.

Mancoba Khumalo is another one who might have spent the election time doing his personal errands or Free Evangelical Assemblies business while waiting for the appointing authority to get him back into cabinet. All that former Senator Vuka Moi Moi Masilela needs is to put on his traditional attire and do the run-around for royalty to win a seat as the legislator.

He does not have to campaign or convince anyone on what laws the country needs to develop as a Senator or MP. Cleopas Dlamini too does not have to stand in front of a rural community, travel kilometres on muddy roads, and brave the heat, seeking votes, for him to have a place at Hospital Hill's table of power. Mind you, these are the politicians with real power and influence, not the elected ones.