The Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland 2005 supports the establishment of local governments. In addition to the Constitution, Swaziland has enacted the Government Reform and Decentralization Policy, 2005 which provides an enabling environment for promoting and enabling sustainable and participatory local and national economic, political and social development within a decentralized governance framework. The Tinkhundla and Regional Administration Bill, 2010 further provides the law on administration and development of Tinkhundla and regions and the decentralization of power from Central Government.
Local government structure in the Kingdom of Swaziland is influenced strongly by the country’s form of government and traditions. The administrators of the four major regions in Swaziland are appointed directly by the king. Also the subsequent 9 municipalities and 55 traditional administrative units called ‘tinkhundla’ are ruled through the kingdom’s traditional courts and chiefdoms. The chiefdoms elect so-called bucopho or development committees who form the local representation between the people and tinkhundla. The tinkhundla fall under the direct supervision of the royally elected administrators and have substantially less autonomy than their 9 municipal counterparts. The Swaziland Local Government Association (SWALGA) is the representative body for local governments in Swaziland. It however, needs strengthening as it is currently struggling to fulfill its mandate.
This more traditional form of government on national as well as local level has undergone significant changes over the past five years. The enactment of the Constitution of Swaziland in 2006 tries to reconcile traditional Swazi law with the requirements of modern law. Attention goes out to women’s rights, democratization but also local government. A major effort of the decentralization process is narrowing the divide between urban and rural areas in terms of responsibility and autonomy. Localities are planned to play bigger role in the staffing of their bureaucratic departments and councils.