HC Deb 11 February 1964 vol 689 cc187-8
1. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement about the referendum recently held on the proposed Constitution for Swaziland.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies (Mr. Nigel Fisher)

There was no ballot paper putting precise questions. Voters were asked to choose between pictures of a lion and a reindeer. The result was an overwhelming majority of voters for the lion. I interpret this result as a clear demonstration of confidence in the person and the office of the Ngwenyama, about which we had no doubt. The Ngwenyama-in-Council, has, since the referendum, advised the Swazis to register for the elections under the new Constitution.

Mr. Wall

Is my hon. Friend aware that the method he has described is the usual one of conducting voting in Africa, and has been done under British jurisdiction? Is he aware that of a total male population of 125,000 in Swaziland, 122,000 voted against his right hon. Friend's constitutional proposals and only 154 voted for them? Would he, therefore, ask his right hon. Friend to alter these proposals?

Mr. Fisher

The voting was very large, as hon. Friend says, but as the Swazi National Council has itself said that this referendum was not meant to fight the new Constitution I hope, if I may say so, that my hon. Friend does not intend to be more royal than the king—literally. Now that the Ngwenyama has agreed to contest the elections under our system in the new Constitution, questions about the referendum are, with respect, a little academic.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Is the hon. Member aware that despite his rather colourful way of describing the referendum, we on this side support his interpretation, and hope that he will proceed in carrying through the constitutional changes proposed?

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