Swaziland. A funeral vigil for an opposition politician in January passed in protest against the regime’s repression, a demonstration reminiscent of how funerals were used in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Thousands of people participated in a nightly protest with singing and dancing, and with speeches by the banned political party PUDEMO’s (People’s United Democratic Movement) leader.
In March, police arrested Thulani Maseko, the lead human rights lawyer, and Bheki Makhubu, editor of the country’s largest newspaper The Nation, which has published chronicles of Maseko. They were prosecuted for court-martial since they criticized the Supreme Court’s judge. They were sentenced to two years in prison, and the newspaper received high fines. According to critics, it was a political trial.
The country’s lawyers had previously striked in protest against the judge. The reply from King Mswati was to distribute the Order of Merit to the chief judge, who among other things. banned the country’s other judges from raising targets against the royal house.
According to Countryaah.com, Eswatini population in 2020 is estimated at 1,160,175. Swaziland’s foreign exchange reserves were being depleted since an economic downturn in South Africa reduced exports there. In addition, the United States decided to ban Swaziland from duty-free trade because of violence against peaceful demonstrations and a lack of protection of workers’ rights.
According to the Justice Minister, God wants the people of Swaziland to love their monarch. But the king’s wasteful lifestyle gained new attention during the year when an anonymous Twitter and Facebook group, Swazi Leaks, published photos of the royal family’s extravagant trips abroad. The king is believed to have a wealth equivalent to about SEK 1.4 billion, while the majority of Swaziland countries are estimated to live on less than $ 1 a day. This year’s budget for the royal family’s expenses was increased, while the general old-age pension of approximately SEK 135 per month remained unchanged.