Swaziland. Before the new school year in January, the government had decided that only Christianity could be taught in the field of religion. In new textbooks, the Bible would be the only sacred scripture to be addressed. Religions other than Christianity would be admitted only at college and university. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for frequently used acronyms and abbreviations related to as well as country profile of Swaziland.
According to Countryaah.com, the decision came after a public debate with criticism of the country receiving some Muslim immigrants. According to the American Religious Freedom Report, some Christian groups have discriminated against non-Christian groups, especially in rural areas where the view of Islam is generally negative.
In March, civil rights groups strongly criticized King Mswati’s one-sided rule and demanded that the 44-year ban on political parties be lifted. Among the critics was the World Federation of Trade Unions. According to Swaziland’s solidarity network, the majority of the people live below the poverty line and the regime’s repression negates the will of the people.
The school system is in crisis. According to the Ministry of Education, only about one fifth of the children participate in the education. The big problem is the school fees, which most families cannot afford. Many children cross the border to South Africa, where they can have free schooling and a meal at school, but where they often live in miserable conditions.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma visited Swaziland in April and then participated in King Mswati’s birthday celebration, a precious history criticized by human rights groups as a waste of funds that should go to improve the lives of the country’s poor.
A May report by the British aid organization Oxfam showed that Swaziland is the world’s most unequal country, where discrimination against women is a major problem as is the economic divide between the elite and the poor mass.
In August, it was reported that a man of the people wanted to be free to the king’s eldest daughter. Fifty cows were the price to negotiate with the king, and if he joined the party, the total bride price could be at least 300 cattle.
During the year, however, a positive report came out that Swaziland had almost halved the rate of HIV transmission. This had been done in five years with the help of increased access to brake medicines. In 2016, the world’s highest proportion of HIV-infected people had fallen to 27% among 15-year-olds and older.
The Kingdom of Swaziland (also known as Ngwame) is an absolute monarchy, which arose in the first half of the nineteenth century following the occupation of the north-eastern territories of the current South African region of Natal by ethnic groups who emigrated from the nearby kingdom of the Zulu. Swaziland is an enclave stateSouth Africa, with the exception of a small part that borders Mozambique. The rise of British power, in conjunction with the weakening of the power of the Boer Republic of Transvaal, allowed the United Kingdom to impose the protectorate on Swaziland, while recognizing the authority of the local ruler. The fate of the kingdom, which passed under the regency of Sobhuza II in 1921, depended on the British desire to accelerate the process of decolonization, following the worsening of the conflicts with South Africa in the 1960s. A gradual transition led the African state to independence in 1968 and created the conditions for the adoption of the first two Constitutions (1964 and 1967) and the formation of the parliament. In the same years the pro-monarchist party of the Imbokodvo National Movement (INM) – which would win 24 seats in the 1967 lower house elections – and the opposition party Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (Nncl) were formed. From 1968 onwards, Swaziland’s internal political history has not undergone substantial changes and the political system has maintained an authoritarian character. The kingdom can be defined as a dual monarchy, hinged on the power of the king, who since 1986 is Mswati III, also called ‘Leo’, and the queen mother, called ‘Elephantess’. Parties have been banned since 1973, the year in which the Constitution was suspended by the sovereign. However, there is a parliament, whose members are partly appointed by the king and queen and partly elected by local councils by secret ballot. Members nominated by the crown can elect the prime minister (since 2008 Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, already in office from 1996 to 2003). The parliament has no effective power and the royal family, even after the promulgation of a new constitution in 2006, makes all decisions through the State Supreme Council (Liqoqo). The opposition People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) party was banned and its leader Mario Masuku was arrested in 2008 and released a year later. Civil society, represented in part by Pudemo and in part by the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (Sftu), has repeatedly demonstrated in the streets, mostly in a peaceful but sometimes violent way, so that the country could equip itself with democratic institutions. The only result was fierce repression and new restrictions on rights, in a climate of growing terror. In the 2013 parliamentary elections the candidates participated as individuals, as political parties cannot take part in the elections. Nominations from women and political activists have been strongly discouraged, even with violence. Decades of dictatorship and political choices aimed primarily at protecting the interests of the royal family have plunged Swaziland into a state of profound poverty. The spread of HIV and food famine have contributed to further worsening the situation. Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world (26.5% of the population) and among the highest death rates. The youth unemployment rate is around 40%. On the international level, the country is strongly linked to South Africa, which is the leading trading partner (covering approximately 90% of imports and approximately 60% of exports) and the only supplier of energy. Swaziland is active in regional cooperation through the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).