oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - "We shall take our case to the King": legitimacy and tradition in the administration of law in Swaziland

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Several case studies are used in this article to demonstrate what cases and in what circumstances people in the Kingdom of Swaziland would prefer to use "western" courts. However, as the "cases" showed, the Swaziland situation does not seem to fall neatly into current theory. Perhaps in modernising societies with polyglot ethnic groups into which the vast majority of third world countries fall, the explanations would be sufficient. In most cases these societies have not yet had time to build up stable political, social, economic and legal systems. In a monolithic society or country like Swaziland where commonly inherited traditions run deep, the legitimacy of the leadership is by and large assured, and the people have an alternative to western style courts. The alternative has proved very popular. Observers of the operation of "western" courts in third world countries have stressed among other weaknesses, its delays and uncertainties, expense, and the unfamiliarity of its procedures.

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