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Country Reports

Swaziland Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Growing criticism from banned political parties and civil society groups focuses on King Mswati III's alleged abuse of a near-absolute monarchy. In April 2019, he appointed 17 family members to the two most senior advisory committees. These bodies are virtually unaccountable and more powerful than the government and prime minister. The latter post was filled by MTN Swazi chief executive Ambrose Dlamini on 27 October 2018, even though his nomination by the king flouted the constitutional rule which states that the prime minister must come from the House of Assembly.King Mswati III noted at the opening of parliament in February 2019 that tax revenues would fall substantially short of projected spending, making planned corporate tax cuts unlikely. Further taxes on imports and consumer items are likely, even though Eswatini made tax increases in April 2018 and lifted VAT by 1 percentage point to 15%, matching that of its dominant trading partner, South Africa.Economic growth in Eswatini will remain under pressure in the short term, with real GDP growth projected at 1.2% in 2019 and 1.3% in 2020 amid prevailing downside risks. Activity should strengthen, thanks to improving external demand from key markets, importantly South Africa and the European Union. Moreover, the restoration of Eswatini's trade benefits under the US AGOA will help underpin growth and exports.The government is likely to introduce public spending cuts and further austerity measures in the civil service, which will probably trigger protests involving several thousand people in urban centres such as Mbabane and Manzini. Public finances will remain at risk given the uncertainty surrounding future revenue-sharing in the SACU pool. Further fiscal consolidation will be needed to narrow the budget deficit over the medium term given the revenue strains, while reforms to improve the business and investment environment will be critical to boost foreign investment levels and help meet developmental challenges.
Last update: September 10, 2019

Operational Outlook

Strike action has been increasing in frequency despite attempts to refuse permits for labour protests, and will probably rise in the likely event that further austerity measures are imposed due to revenue shortfalls. King Mswati III called at the opening of parliament in February 2019 for severe public spending cuts, even though wage freezes had previously been announced in March 2018 for employees of parastatals, after similar measures for civil servants. Major demonstrations took place in September 2018, called by the Trade Union Congress, to protest over pay, working conditions, and various socio-economic grievances. Government corruption occurs at all levels but is not endemic, though the Anti-Corruption Commission is ineffective.

Last update: September 11, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

The 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act was amended in August 2017 when Eswatini 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 Eswatini’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.

Last update: September 11, 2019

Crime

Although Eswatini's crime rate is substantially lower than that of most other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, vehicle hijackings, burglaries, and street robberies are not uncommon. Other established crimes include cross-border smuggling (including of cars), wildlife poaching, and cattle rustling, all of which have continued to capitalise on porous borders with Mozambique and South Africa. There are patrols along the border, but capacity is limited.

Last update: September 11, 2019

War Risks

Eswatini'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 amid recurring economic hardship increase the likelihood of violent protests, but civil war is highly unlikely.

Last update: September 11, 2019

Social Stability

High

Risks of intermittent strikes and protests, particularly in Mbabane and Manzini, remain elevated amid ongoing socio-economic hardships and lack of political reform, with Eswatini maintaining near-absolute monarchical power. Calls by King Mswati III for severe public spending cuts are likely to provoke demonstrations with several thousand participants in the likely event that the government introduces further austerity measures in the civil service. Protests are likely to increasingly focus on the king's spending, after he bought a second private jet in 2018 and was accused by civil society activists of having been complicit in the government's alleged removal of USD150 million from the national pension fund.

Last update: September 11, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

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.

Routine Vaccinations

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).

Other Vaccinations

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

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).

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +268

There are no emergency services in Swaziland.

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019