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Swaziland Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

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 effectively 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 be a member of the House of Assembly.Economic growth in Eswatini remains under pressure in the short term, with real GDP growth projected at 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 as COVID-19 lockdown measures are eased. Moreover, the restoration of Eswatini's trade benefits under the US AGOA will help underpin growth and exports.Lockdown measures implemented to fight the spread of COVID-19 on 27 March were extended to the end June. The lockdown has severely limited the ability of informal traders, who make up a large part of Eswatini’s economy to do business. It is likely that informal traders will begin to protest against the lockdown, if there are further extensions. Protests are likely to be in the capital, Mbabane.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.

Operational Outlook

Strike action motivated by economic grievances periodically disturb access to and from Eswatini but are unlikely to last over three days; foodstuff transport is subject to low-capability attacks by the local population. In August 2019, the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) staged a strike, making the eight entry points into Eswatini inaccessible from Friday to Monday. The entry points are the Ngwenya, Matsamo, Mahamba, Lavumisa, Sicunusa, Mananga, Sandlane, and Bulembu border posts. The ATDF was demanding better salaries and more local employment, rather than employing people from outside the region.

Terrorism

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.

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.

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.

Social Stability

High

Civil unrest is common and often motivated by labour disputes and economic grievances. In May 2019, around 3,000 protesters gathered in Manzini, the second-largest city, to ask for the right to elect their representatives instead of being ruled by the king. The protest was led by Wandile Dludlu of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, a loose umbrella organisation of pro-democracy parties and militants. The government owes money to all its suppliers and public services are crumbling. This leads to regular protests in which public servants hold national strikes to get cost-of-living salary adjustments. These protests are non-violent and unlikely to last for more than three days.

Health Risk

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.

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:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal