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
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.
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
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.