King Mswati III the last absolute monarch of Africa has officially renamed Swaziland to Kingdom of eSwatini. The meaning of eSwatini is ‘land of the Swazis’ as per the local Swati language. King made the announcement on the 50th anniversary of the independence of Swaziland and also on the occasion of his 50th birthday.
The King has already made reference to the new name Kingdom of eSwatini on many occasions like his address to the UN General Assembly, the African Union etc. He stated that Swaziland is finally reverting to its old and original name which it had before the British invasion. The Commonwealth nation which is largely mired in extreme poverty had become independent from Britain in 1968.
He rested his decision on the pretext that many people abroad get confused between Swaziland and Switzerland and thus the country’s name should resonate with the identity and vibe of the people.
The country has a largely agrarian economy with the majority involved in the cultivation of sugar. There is widespread poverty along with alarming rates of AID/HIV. The World Bank has included it in the low middle-income country which has close economic ties with South Africa on which it is dependent for 85% imports and 60% exports. The latest growth estimates are pegged at 1.3% and 2% in 2018 and 2019 respectively which is seen as a dismal figure. This has been fuelled by continued drought conditions and a tough external environment. Thus, there is an apparent fall in revenue coupled with increased public spending thus widening fiscal deficits and debt. It was, however, again admitted to Africa Growth Opportunity Agreement in December 2017 after facing suspension of 3 years. This is expected to turn the trade balance between US and Swaziland in the advantage of Swaziland. The governmental Plan of Action (2013-2018) will define its progress towards its Vision 2022. A monitoring tool has been developed namely Swaziland Development Index which will measure progress on 8 key areas- governance, education, economy, agriculture, infrastructure, health, government implementation of policies and corruption.