Saturday, September 18, 2021

Swaziland | Introduction

AfricaSwazilandSwaziland | Introduction

Swaziland, one of the world’s last absolute monarchs, is one of Africa’s smallest nations and has a well-deserved reputation for kindness in the region. It also has a number of modestly large government-sponsored game parks and reserves that are popular tourist attractions.

Mswati II, who became monarch in 1839, is the name of Swaziland. The Dlamini clan may be traced back to the royal bloodline. The population is approximately split between Nguni, Sotho, and Tsonga, with the remaining 3% white. Mswati III, the present monarch, is the son of Sobuza II, who had about seventy wives. Indlovukazi, the Queen Mother, and he reign together. Swaziland’s main emblem is the monarch himself, rather than the flags or monuments that the West associates with nationhood. The incwala, a multi-week-long ritual focusing on traditional authority, state unity, importance of agriculture, sanctity of land, fertility, and potency, exemplifies the king’s connection with the people. The implementation of chastity decrees for under-18s to prevent the spread of AIDS has made Mswati’s connection with his people even more special. Mswati III, on the other hand, defied the norm when he married his twelfth wife, a 17-year-old girl, in 2005. Mswati III has also been chastised for trying to buy a private aircraft at a time of severe drought and hunger. The media was barred from making derogatory comments about the monarchy in general, and the aircraft in particular, as a result of the outcry. Further plans to construct luxurious mansions for his wives while his people starved in the third year of drought drew widespread condemnation. Mswati III signed the country’s first constitution in 2005, but nothing has changed in practice: opposition parties are still outlawed, and the King is still the absolute ruler.

Sugar, produced on plantations across Swaziland, soft drink concentrates, cotton, maize, tobacco, rice, and wood pulp are Swaziland’s major exports. Asbestos demand, which was once a significant export, has plummeted owing to the severe health hazards it poses. The area has been severely overgrazed and cultivated. This is especially troublesome given Swaziland’s long-term drought. Unemployment is hovering about 25%. The incapacity to work as a consequence of AIDS contributes to this number.

Swazis construct their houses differently depending on whether they are Nguni or Sotho: Nguni huts are beehive-shaped, whereas Sotho homes feature complete window frames and doors. The living quarters are split into three sections: dwelling quarters, animal housing, and the ‘big’ hut, which is designated for the patrilineal ancestors’ spirits. The wives of the chiefs each have their own cottage. Local chiefs or the Crown hold property; most of it has been purchased back for the country, while unclaimed land is utilized for grazing and firewood gathering. The growth of the middle classes has resulted in a developing class structure. The individual’s social standing is defined by their relationship to the clan chief or the royal family. Fluency and competence in English are the primary social markers in metropolitan settings.

The King’s Birthday, which is celebrated with a national ‘day off’ and local celebrations on April 19, and the Reed (Umhlanga) Dance, a three-day event in August when hundreds of maidens (virgins) gather from all across Swaziland, are two of the most famous festivals and ceremonies. The King is allowed to choose a new wife from among them.

Despite comparable issues with poverty and one of the world’s worst AIDS epidemics, Swaziland is renowned for its politeness and calm in comparison to other nations in the area. The overall reported proportion of people living with HIV was 30% as of November 2008; this, of course, does not include individuals who have not yet been tested. The AIDS pandemic has shattered the traditional extended family structure, leaving many young children orphaned and on the verge of starvation.

Hhohho (northwest), Lubombo (east), Manzini (central-west), and Shiselweni (west) are the four administrative districts of Swaziland (south).

Climate

Rain occurs mostly throughout the summer months, often in the form of thunderstorms. The dry season is winter. The annual rainfall in the Highveld in the West is the greatest, ranging from 1000 to 2000mm depending on the year. The Lowveld receives 500 to 900mm of rain each year, which is less than the rest of the country. Temperature variations are also linked to the height of various locations. The climate on the Highveld is moderate and seldom too hot, while the Lowveld may reach temperatures of about 40 degrees in the summer.

Geography

Swaziland is situated on a fault that extends north from Lesotho’s Drakensberg Mountains, through Zimbabwe’s Eastern highlands, and into Kenya’s Great Rift Valley.

Swaziland is a tiny landlocked monarchy bordered on the north, west, and south by the Republic of South Africa, and on the east by Mozambique. Swaziland covers 17,364 km2 of land. Swaziland is divided into four geographical areas. These are defined by height and run from north to south. Swaziland’s latitude and longitude are about 26°30’S and 31°30’E. Swaziland’s landscapes are diverse, ranging from mountains near the Mozambican border to savannas in the east to rain forest in the northwest. The Great Usutu River, for example, runs across the nation.

The Lubombo, a mountain crest at a height of approximately 600 meters, runs along the eastern border with Mozambique. The Ngwavuma, Usutu, and Mbuluzi rivers all have gorges that cut through the highlands. This is the heartland of cattle ranching. Swaziland’s western border, at an average elevation of 1200 meters, is on the brink of an escarpment. Rivers flow through steep valleys between the mountains. The capital, Mbabane, is situated on the Highveld.

The Middleveld, at an average elevation of 700 meters above sea level, is Swaziland’s most densely inhabited area, with lesser rainfall than the highlands. The Middleveld is home to Manzini, the main commercial and industrial center.

At approximately 250 meters above sea level, Swaziland’s Lowveld is less inhabited than other regions and resembles a classic African bush country with thorn trees and grasslands. The epidemic of malaria hampered the region’s development in the early days.

Demographics

The bulk of Swaziland’s population is Swazi, with a minor number of Zulu and White Africans, mainly of British and Afrikaner ancestry, making up the remainder. Swazis have traditionally been subsistence farmers and herders, but the majority now combine these pursuits with employment in the expanding urban formal sector and government. Some Swazis labor in South African mines.

Swaziland also took in Portuguese immigrants and Mozambican African refugees. Swaziland’s Christianity is often blended with indigenous beliefs and customs. Many traditionalists think that most Swazis see the monarch as having a unique spiritual function.

Swaziland inhabitants have almost the lowest recorded life expectancy in the world, with 50.54 years, which is greater than just four other nations. This is attributable to the consequences of excess mortality related to AIDS.

Religion

Christianity is the most prevalent religion in Swaziland, with 83 percent of the people following it. The bulk of Christians (40%) are Anglican, Protestant, and indigenous African denominations, including African Zionists, with Roman Catholicism accounting for 20% of the population. Ellinah Wamukoya was elected Anglican Bishop of Swaziland on July 18, 2012, becoming Africa’s first female bishop. Traditional faiths are followed by 15% of the population; other non-Christian religions practiced in the nation include Islam (1%), the Bahá’ Faith (0.5%), and Hinduism (1%). (0.2 percent ). There are 14 Jewish households in the neighborhood.

Economy

Swaziland’s economy is diverse, with agriculture, forestry, and mining accounting for approximately 13% of GDP, manufacturing (textiles and sugar-related processing) contributing for 37% of GDP, and services accounting for 50% of GDP, with government services leading the way. The majority of high-value commodities (sugar, forestry, and citrus) are produced on Title Deed Lands (TDLs), which are characterized by high levels of investment and irrigation, as well as high production.

On Swazi Nation Land, around 75% of the population works in subsistence agriculture (SNL). Swazi Nation Land, in contrast to commercial farms, has poor production and investment. The Swazi economy’s dual character, with high productivity in textile manufacture and industrialised agricultural TDLs on the one hand and decreasing productivity in subsistence agriculture (on SNL) on the other, may explain the country’s overall poor growth, high inequality, and unemployment.

Swaziland’s economic development has fallen behind that of its neighbors. Since 2001, real GDP growth has averaged 2.8 percent, almost two percentage points lower than that of other Southern African Customs Union (SACU) members. Low agricultural production in the SNLs, recurrent droughts, HIV/AIDS’ terrible impact, and an excessively big and inefficient government sector are all probable contributory causes. Following a decade of large surpluses, Swaziland’s state finances worsened in the late 1990s. Significant budget deficits resulted from a combination of decreasing income and increasing expenditure.

The large expenditures did not result in increased growth or benefit to the poor. Current expenditures such as salaries, transfers, and subsidies have accounted for a large portion of the increasing spending. The salary bill now accounts for nearly 15% of GDP and 55% of total government expenditure, making it one of the largest on the African continent. The recent fast increase in SACU income, on the other hand, has turned the budgetary position around, with a significant surplus recorded since 2006. Today, SACU funds make for more than 60% of overall government income. On the plus side, the foreign debt load has decreased significantly over the past 20 years, while domestic debt is almost non-existent; external debt as a percentage of GDP was less than 20% in 2006.

Swaziland’s economy is inextricably connected to that of South Africa, from which it gets over 90% of its imports and sends about 70% of its exports. Swaziland’s other major commercial partners are the United States and the European Union, from which it has obtained trade advantages for clothing exports to the US (under the African Growth and Opportunity Act – AGOA) and sugar exports to the EU (to the EU). Both clothing and sugar exports thrived under these accords, with fast development and a large influx of foreign direct investment. Between 2000 and 2005, textile exports increased by more than 200 percent, while sugar exports increased by more than 50 percent.

The elimination of textile trade advantages, the adoption of comparable preferences for East Asian nations, and the phase-out of favorable sugar pricing to the EU market all threaten the export sector’s viability. As a result, Swaziland will have to contend with the difficulty of staying competitive in a rapidly changing global context. The investment environment is a critical element in resolving this problem.

In this respect, the recently completed Investment Climate Assessment reveals that Swaziland companies are among the most productive in Sub-Saharan Africa, while being less productive than firms in other regions’ most productive middle-income nations. They perform better than companies from lower middle income nations, but they are hindered by insufficient governance and infrastructure.

Swaziland’s currency is linked to the South African Rand, which means that Swaziland’s monetary policy is subsumed by South Africa’s. South African worker remittances and customs charges from the Southern African Customs Union, which may account for up to 70% of government revenue this year, significantly augment domestically generated money. Swaziland is not poor enough to qualify for an IMF program, but it is battling to decrease the size of the civil service and keep expenses in state businesses under control. The administration is working to make the environment more conducive to foreign direct investment.