Swaziland Recent History

It is the smallest British protectorate in southern Africa; it does not belong to the South African Union but is directly dependent on the Colonial Office. It is run by a High Commissioner for South Africa and is administered by a resident commissioner. The capital is Mbabane.

The Consultative Council of Swaziland deals only with European affairs while for those relating to indigenous people the Swazi chiefs are directly responsible. The population is of Bantu stock, few Europeans are present.

According to Abbreviationfinder,the South African government has always claimed its sovereignty over the territory but without obtaining any result from the London government. Indeed, the British government has repeatedly stated that it does not want to transfer the colony to the South African Union to respect the wishes of the natives. And the requests of the Union remained unsuccessful until shortly before the Second World War.

In 1938 the Anglo-African Joint Advisory Conference was born in Swaziland, which however did not change the situation. And in 1948, when the government of the South African Union was made up exclusively of nationalists, racists, even more London was determined not to leave the protectorate.
Neither did the South African government’s threats to an economic boycott ever succeed. Indeed, in response to the repeated requests of the various governments of the Union, and in open contrast to their apartheid regime, Great Britain granted the country greater autonomy.

In August 1960 I. Nquku founded the first political party, the “Swaziland Progressive Party”, autonomist but opposed to racism. In 1963 the doctor P. Zwane founded the “Ngwane National Liberatory Congress”, while a group of liberal whites founded the “Swaziland Democratic Party”.

In the same year a new Constitution was launched; elections took place in 1964: 8 seats went to the Imbokodvo, a party founded by King Sobhuza II, who had reigned since 1921, and 4 to whites, loyal to the king. In the same year a positive thing was the completion of a railway that crosses the whole country, with great benefit for the economy.

Even the 1967 elections were almost exclusively the prerogative of the king’s party and on September 6, 1968 the full independence of the monarchy could be proclaimed, always within the British Commonwealth. The king retained all powers and the state took over the ancient indigenous name of Ngwane.

The elections of 1972 had the same effect and the following year the king, with the consent of the Parliament, repealed the Constitution, dissolved all the parties and organized a small army.

Swaziland Recent History

For foreign policy, Swaziland, declaredly anti-Communist, always maintained good relations with South Africa, since it was tied by economic agreements, and with all English-speaking countries.

In 1977 the king definitively dissolved Parliament and organized the electoral system on a tribal basis. But the following year the traditional system of the bicameral Parliament was restored, albeit with only consultative powers, according to the new Constitution.

On August 21, 1982 Sobhuza II died and the struggles for succession began within the family; these lasted long, under the regency of the queen mother Dzeliwe. And on April 25, 1986 the youngest son, not yet 21 years old, was crowned king, who was called Mswati III. The young king, who had studied in Europe, wanted to begin his government by fighting abuse and corruption, by respecting and securing land ownership, and by starting a fair exploitation of mines.

In the meantime it had been made known that a few years earlier Sobhuza II had signed a non-repression pact with South Africa by the African nationalist movement; for this reason, several times, racist actions of South African armed forces occurred within the territories of the border with Swaziland. The country’s new government filed protests over these territorial violations. And as the war in Mozambique strengthened, fears about the security of Swaziland grew on that front too.

Here in 1993 regular elections were held on the traditional system and with the end of apartheid there was a period of tranquility for Swaziland, although there were some oppositions to the political system, considered not too democratic by the natives.

In the second half of the 1990s, the demonstrations of the opposition intensified in the country, in order to achieve greater democratization. Then also the unions intervened which decreed strikes and protests that often blocked all activities.

Alternatively, King Mswati III first arrested trade unionists and opponents of the regime, and then instead applied greater willingness to revise the Constitution, improving it. In fact, in early 1996, the strikes were stopped and in May the king formed a commission for the study of new laws.

The European Union supported this initiative and declared all its availability for assistance. However, the Commission was made up of elements that were not quite up to the situation and thus there were no results of any importance. Many of the opponents withdrew from the Commission and strikes began again in February 1997.

In the midst of difficulties and tensions, general elections took place in October 1998, which were boycotted by the most important opposition party and a large number of independents.

Internationally, Swaziland continued to depend economically on the Republic of South Africa, even after the end of apartheid.

Contrasts with Mozambique, however, continued due to the persistence of the presence of many Mozambican refugees in the regions east of the country.