It performed better in Swaziland than for Lesotho to develop as state after the nation’s diverse ethnic groups were merged into one nationality. The Dlamini clan chief, Sobhuza united for fear of the Zulu’s continuing expansion of the other tribes of the country, building a position of power in the northeast of the current South African Natal province. He died shortly after the Boers defeated the Zulu people (1839) and appointed his son, M’swazi, to preserve his people’s unity against the threat posed by the Africans. Through almost 30 years of resistance, the people assumed the name of their king. Shortly before he died, he had to ask the British for help, not to be defeated by the Boers.
In 1867, Swaziland was formally transformed into British Protectorate, similar to Basutoland (present Lesotho) and Bechuanaland (present Botswana).
After London defeated the Boers and extended its power throughout South Africa, these countries remained subject to a separate colony administration, despite demands from the South African settlers who also wanted to invade these territories. According to Countryaah, the traditional Swazi tribal authorities were formally recognized in 1941 – based on the British strategy of serving the “natives” to facilitate colony administration.
When the South African Union in 1961 severed relations with Britain and the policy of racial segregation was strengthened, London decided to accelerate the decolonization of the region. Swaziland gained internal autonomy in 1967 and the year after formal independence. Sobhuza II was recognized as head of state and was to rule with two legislative assemblies. On April 12, 1973, the king dissolved the parliament, accused it of containing “destructive elements,” declared itself a monarch and banned all the activities of the political parties.
In effect, Sobhuza II submitted to the South African colonizers who had fought his own grandfather. The communications, mail, transport, currency and Swazilands Bank were all completely dependent on South Africa. South African companies mined the country’s iron; South African experts controlled the kingdom’s public administration – giving South Africa a very precise control of the country’s affairs – and controlled agricultural production. The country’s most important export product, cotton was traded through South African middlemen. Finally, the Boers installed the brothels and cabarets in Swaziland, which their own strict morality prevented them from having in their own country.
As Swaziland lacks sufficient jobs, thousands of workers each year were forced to look for work in the South African gold mines. The amounts they sent home to their families accounted for 25% of the country’s currency income.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Eswatini demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
In October 1977, an important demonstration was conducted in which the students solidified themselves with the teachers’ strike for higher wages. The following year SWALIMO (Swaziland Liberation Movement) was formed under the leadership of Doctor Ambrose Swane, who managed to escape the prison in Mbabane. The rapid strengthening of the opposition was followed by a rapid rebuilding of the armed forces. The army grew from 1,000 men in 1975 to 5,000 in 1979, while also strengthening police forces.
The rapid development of the opposition was among other things. a consequence of the example of the Socialist regime in Mozambique. The rising tensions in the country caused the government to strengthen military relations with South Africa and Israel. King Sobhuza II was one of the 3 African leaders who never severed diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.
After the 1977 strikes, the government began to crack down on the opposition, applying exemption legislation to allow random detentions for up to 60 days.