History of Independent Eswatini

Flag of Eswatini

Mswati III is the current monarch of Swaziland since his coronation in 1986 CE and rules with Queen Ntombi Tfwala. In 1986 CE, Sotsha Dlamini was chosen as the Prime Minister, taking over from Prince Bhekimpi. In 1987 CE, following the premature dissolution of parliament by the monarch, Swaziland held its third governmental election under the tinkhundla traditional system. In 1988 CE and 1989 CE, an underground political party, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), reprimanded the king and his government, calling for ‘democratic reforms.’

In response to this federal threat and growing widespread calls for greater responsibility within the government, the king and the prime minister started an ongoing national debate on Swaziland’s political and constitutional future.

This debate produced some political reforms, approved by the king, including indirect and direct voting, in the 1993 CE national elections. In this election, the government registered voters, the administration increased the constituencies from 50 to 55, and the election was reportedly judged as free and fair.

The population and the economics of Swaziland continued to evolve in the 1980s CE. The average economic growth was 3.3% annual growth between 1985 CE and 1993 CE. Annual population growth was at about 3% during the same period. Swaziland’s 1980s CE economy continued to depend on South Africa, with 90% of imports arising from South Africa and 37% of exports moving to South Africa. Swaziland, along with Botswana, Lesotho, and South Africa, continued to be members of the SACU (Southern African Customs Union). State revenues were dependent on the Customs Union’s remittances between 48.3% and 67.1% between 1981 CE and 1987 CE.

Britain declared the constitution for independent Swaziland in November 1963 CE, under which executive and legislative councils were established. This development was opposed by the Liqoqo (Swazi National Council). Despite such hostility, elections took place, and the first Legislative Council of Swaziland was constituted on 9 September 1964 CCE. Britain accepted changes to the original constitution introduced by the Legislative Council, and a new constitution providing for a Senate and House of Assembly was drawn up.

Elections under this constitution were held in 1967 CE. Following the elections of 1973 CE, the constitution of Swaziland was suspended by King Sobhuza II, who after that ruled the nation by decree until his death in 1982 CE. At this point, Sobhuza II had ruled Eswatini for 83 years, making him the longest ruling monarch in Modern history.

On 19 April 2018 CE, King Mswati III confirmed that the Kingdom of Swaziland had renamed itself the Kingdom of Eswatini to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence. The new name, Eswatini, directly means “land of the Swazis” in the Swazi language and was somewhat intended to avert confusion with the similarly named Switzerland.

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