Swaziland. According to
countryaah, the current population of Eswatini is 1,160,175.
The country was plagued by the severe drought
in a region that received less rainfall than 35 years ago.
The sowing was delayed for two months, the maize harvest
became poor and food prices were pushed up. Lack of water
and grazing killed many livestock. The government proclaimed
national Christianity in February, a few weeks after King Mswati claimed that God saved Swaziland from the drought.
A quarter of the population needed help, and the capital,
Mbabane, introduced water rationing for the first time in
its history. Irrigation was also limited, which affected,
among other things, the harvest of sugar cane, which
accounts for just over one-fifth of the country's GDP.
In a June speech, King Mswati described Swaziland's
governance as a new democratic ideology. According to the
king, democracy means that the subjects choose those who
give advice to the king. The power lies with the royal
house, which stands over both legislators and government.
In a court ruling in September, parts of the country's
anti-terror law were declared to be in violation of the
constitution's guarantee of freedom of conscience, opinion
and meeting. The Anti-Terrorism Act has been used by the
government to ban political groups that oppose King Mswati's
rule, including the opposition party PUDEMO.
It was lawyer Thulani Maseko, who spent 16 months in
prison for criticism of the government, who challenged the
law in court along with PUDEMO leader Mario Masuku. The
latter is charged with what the prosecutor calls terrorism
The ruling meant that regime critics should have the
opportunity to express their views without the fear of
reprisals. The verdict showed the judiciary's independence
from the government and reaffirmed the supremacy of the
constitution. The government appealed the ruling to the
During the year Swaziland took over as chair of the South
African regional cooperation body SADC. Swaziland's
solidarity network SSN believed that Swaziland's presidency
made the region look like a stronghold for dictators.
Game keepers in Swaziland asked during the year at the UN
to sell the country's stock of rhino horns to finance
efforts against poaching and maintenance of wildlife
reserves. It involved hundreds of kilos of horns from
animals that died naturally or horns seized from poachers.
According to wildlife officials, regulated trade could
reduce poaching by meeting demand - especially in Asia for
traditional medicine - legally. However, Swaziland's request
was voted down at an international conference on the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.