Swaziland Country Report
Pressure for political reform and socio-economic grievances continue to fuel sporadic protests, with the second round of elections on 21 September preceded by three days of union-led nationwide demonstrations. Banned political party Pudemo urged an election boycott and only just over a quarter of registered voters took part, despite the government’s continued insistence that Swaziland’s “non-party” elections suit the country. Growing criticism focuses on the king’s alleged abuse of a near-absolute monarchy. Accusations that he has been siphoning money out of the national pension fund are likely to prompt further protests as economic conditions deteriorate. A heavy dependence on variable receipts from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is exacerbatedby a high public-sector wage bill, growing more onerous as workers strike for cost-of-living pay increases.
Swaziland’s investment attractiveness is increased by its proximity to South Africa, although its economy and exports is vulnerable to external conditions and demand. Strike action is becoming more frequent despite attempts to refuse permits for labour protests, with anger stoked by wage freezes announced in March 2018 for employees of parastatals, after similar measures for civil servants. Thousands of workers across the country took part in demonstrations on 18–20 September 2018 called by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland to protest over pay, working conditions, and a variety of socio-economic grievances. Government corruption occurs at all levels but is not endemic, though the Anti-Corruption Commission is ineffective.
The 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act was amended in August 2017 when Swaziland introduced the Public Order Act, allowing for greater recognition of freedom of association, assembly, and speech. Critics of the terrorism legislation, including human rights bodies such as Amnesty International, claimed it was used to suppress those freedoms in order to blunt calls for political reform. The new legislation was sufficient to persuade the US to reinstate Swaziland’s AGOA status in December 2017, three years after it was rescinded. However, five poachers were charged with terrorism offences in September 2017 under the terrorism law, suggesting it will still be widely interpreted when deemed convenient.
Swaziland’s bilateral relations are generally cordial with neighbours Mozambique and South Africa. There has been some previous diplomatic sparring over issues such as shared resources (for example, water from the Nkomati River with Mozambique) and borders with South Africa, but none of the disputes with either neighbouring country is remotely likely to result in war. Domestically, a failure to address growing calls for democratisation will risk further civil unrest at times of recurring economic hardship, and potentially more militant action, but civil war is highly unlikely.
Risks of intermittent strikes and protests, particularly in Mbabane and Manzini, remain elevated amid ongoing socio-economic hardships and lack of political reform, with Swaziland maintaining near-absolute monarchical power. A protest by around 500 people in Mbabane in June 2018 focused on the king’s alleged removal of millions of dollars from the national pension fund. Trade Union Congress-led demonstrations featuring several thousand occurred over 18–20 September, calling attention to royal spending and socio-economic grievances, as well as demanding improved public sector pay and conditions. Deepening financial difficulties in 2019 are likely to drive more frequent, larger, and more violent protests.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all individuals traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Swaziland's climate is subtropical and dry. The dry season begins in mid-April and lasts until mid-October. Days are hot and sunny while nights are cool, even cold between May and August. The rainy season lasts from late October until late March. Rainfall is very heavy in the Highveld (west of the country).
There are no emergency services in Swaziland.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz