Swaziland Country Report
Pressure for political reform and socio-economic grievances continue to fuel sporadic protests, with a new round of demonstrations in September 2017 calling for wide-ranging democratic and socio-economic changes. However, the government had passed the Public Order Act the previous month, under which fines and jail sentences of up to two years can be imposed for criticism of the government and cultural practices. Yet, this act, and amendments to the controversial Suppression of Terrorism Act, triggered the restoration by the US in December 2017 of Swaziland's AGOA trade privileges after a three-year hiatus. A heavy dependence on receipts from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is exacerbated by a high public-sector wage bill, which is growing more onerous as workers strike todemand cost-of-living pay increases.
Swaziland's investment location attractiveness is increased by its proximity to South Africa, although its economy and exports are vulnerable to external economic conditions and demand. Swaziland is ranked 112th in the World Bank's Doing Business report 2018, but obtaining electricity is a particular problem. In December 2017, the US restored Swaziland's AGOA benefits, which it lost in 2014 and cost an estimated 17,000 jobs, mostly in the textile industry. Strike action increased in 2017, with civil servants demanding cost-of-living adjustments rather than the 0% proposed by a government negotiating team in September.
The 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act was amended in August 2017 when Swaziland introduced the Public Order Act, together 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was enough to persuade the US to reinstate Swaziland's AGOA status in December 2017, three years after it was rescinded.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.
Swaziland's bilateral relations are generally cordial with neighbours Mozambique and South Africa. There has been some previous diplomatic tension 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 in the future and potentially more militant action, but civil war is highly unlikely.
Risks of intermittent strikes and protests, particularly in the capital Mbabane and Manzini, remain elevated amid ongoing socio-economic hardships and lack of political reform, with Swaziland maintaining a non-party electoral system and near absolute monarchical power. Political protests, as well as strikes perceived to have taken on a pro-reform agenda, remain very likely to be subjected to a security clampdown, including potentially pre-emptive arrests. A further trigger for protests would be attempts to implement the August 2017 Public Order Act which introduces heavy fines and prison terms of up to two years for criticism of the government or cultural practices.
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