People's and Human's Rights in the Governance Process

Categories: Society


Participation in governance is one of the fundamental human rights entitled to citizens the world over including the people of Eswatini. Such participation is an empowerment process that enhances the people's rights to the governance process. Section 84(1) of the Eswatini Constitution provides for the right to representation. It goes further to cater for equitable representation of women and marginalized groups in Parliament. Section 28 of the said Constitution goes further to provide for equal treatment and equal opportunities for women. These provisions are derived from the international and regional instruments which Eswatini is party to.

These provisions help ensure integration of women into leadership positions.

This paper will focus on the progress made by women in political leadership in Eswatini since ratification of international and regional instruments promoting participation of women in politics. The paper starts off by identifying key terms that will guide the discussion and defining them. The theoretical framework informing the paper will be looked at, the background will be given and then the main discussion where facts in support of and against the discussion will be delved into.

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Definition of Terms

The concepts that will be defined are: women, participation and political leadership. Definition of these terms will help to create shared understanding of the proceedings between the presenter and the audience.


Women is plural for woman. defines woman as the "female human being, as distinguished from a girl or a man; an adult female person". This definition suffices for this paper.

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Participation in governance involves engagement by the public in the conduct of public affairs, which can be political, social, economic or cultural, through policy and decision making processes as individuals or through their elected representatives (Human Rights Bulletin, 2011). According to this definition, participation can be a direct or indirect engagement. Direct in the sense that one is involved and indirect in the case of someone being a proxy, as the case with elected representatives, like councilors, Members of Parliament and so on. Participation in this paper will therefore be used in the context of this definition.


Leadership has been defined variously by various scholars. This is because of the conceptual theories used by leadership theorists in their study of leadership. Some define it from the essentialist view, for some, the relational view, some the critical view, while some from the constructionist perspective. Given the divergent views, the definition is similarly affected. A simple and popular one is proffered by Robins et al (1999) who state that, "Leadership is an influence process in which individuals, by their actions, facilitate the movement of a group towards a common or shared goal." It is therefore my understanding that leadership is about inspiring or motivating people to follow one in the process of achieving goals.

Political leadership

It is a concept central to understanding and interpreting political processes and governance issues. Its definition however is as elusive and divergent as that of leadership. For purposes of this paper, political leadership will be defined as the process in which those in governance inspire or influence their followers to participate in development of policies and decision making.

Conceptual Framework Informing the Paper

Despite major efforts over the past two decades to create equal opportunities for women to participate in politics and to increase female representation in government leadership in sub-Saharan Africa, women's inclusion continues to be a major challenge. According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, the proportion of seats held by women in single or lower houses of national parliaments in sub-Saharan Africa increased by just 8 percentage points between 2000 and 2013, from 13% to 21%. Eswatini is one such country that falls in this region. It is the only African country ruled by the Monarch where the king is chosen from a particular family. This closely reflects on the "Greatman theory" which provides that leaders are born leaders. Thus, the notion that one cannot be a leader out of the blue. They have to belong to a particular group or clan to be in a position to influence and thus not everyone can be in a position to influence but the select few.

The transformative theory of leadership is also relevant as there is need for leadership that can transform political practices, decision making processes and policies that will ensure the general populace's interests are taken into account. Mtintso (2015) posits that for women to make a difference, they must first have access to decision-making positions from which they have been excluded through formal and informal barriers. She goes on to say that the only way in which woman have experienced a rapid increase in political participation is through special measures, including voluntary and legislated quotas. Mtintso argues that access alone is not enough. Women can be in decision-making positions but still be excluded as a result of not occupying leadership positions in those structures, capacity constraints, and or informal barriers. These effectively silence women. Measures therefore need to be taken to enhance women's effective participation. Access and effective participation provides the basis for transformation or change. Here key questions will be whether the current leader takes into account and prioritizes the inclusion of women in political leadership and implores strategies to ensure a level ground and access for both males and females in as far as political leadership is concerned.


An analysis by Afrobarometer indicates that Eswatini continues to fall short of targets for women's representation in public affairs. In 2013 elections, only 18% (55 of 309) of nominated candidates were women, and only one was elected to Parliament. With the King appointing three additional women, four of the 65 members of the House of Assembly (6%) are women. This was a regression from the 2008 elections, in which 13% of candidates were women, nine women were elected to Parliament, and two were appointed by the King. In the 2018 elections, only two women were elected into parliament meaning to say that the king also appointed four representatives in terms of the constitution as the number elected was less than the required 30%. This 9% still falls short of the internationally and regionally set standards.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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People's and Human's Rights in the Governance Process. (2019, Nov 30). Retrieved from

People's and Human's Rights in the Governance Process essay
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