Swaziland has become a less peaceful kingdom over the past seven years, according to a global report.
The findings of the Global Peace Index 2014 contradict a statement made by King Mswati III’s the kingdom’s absolute monarch, last week that ‘Swaziland was blessed because of the peace and tranquillity that existed among its people’.
It ranked Swaziland 87 out of 162 countries in the world. The Index measures ‘global peace’ by three themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic or international conflict and the degree of militarisation. The report stated Swaziland’s score had deteriorated slightly since the last Index was published seven years ago.
The report stated that Swaziland had spent US$370 million in 2013 in what it termed ‘direct violence containment.’ This usually refers to the amount spent on military services. The total spending equated to UD$300 per person in the population. In Swaziland seven out of ten people earn less than US$2 per day.
The Index ranked Swaziland out of 5 in a number of categories (where 5 was ‘very high’) and found it scored 3 for perceived criminality; 4 for murders; 4.5 for violent demonstrations; and 3.3 for political instability).
The kingdom, where political parties are banned from taking part in elections and King Mswati choses the government, scored less than 1 out of 10 for its electoral process. The functioning of government scored 2.9 out of 10. It scored 3.3 out of 10 on a ‘political democracy index.’
The conclusion that Swaziland is less peaceful than it once was contradicts the message that King Mswati has been trying to push in the community. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported as recently as 25 January 2015, that when dispersing thousands of regiments at Ngabezweni Royal Residence, after the annual Incwala ceremony, the King attacked critics from outside the kingdom, saying they were jealous of the peace in Swaziland. He added Swaziland was blessed because of the peace and tranquillity that existed among its people.
In 2010, an ‘assessment of the current level of human rights understanding’ in Swaziland, commissioned by the Council of Swaziland Churches and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), found that it was fear, more than anything else, that was responsible for the peace and stability that King Mswati keeps talking about.
The study found out that the majority of the people were afraid of their government hence they dared not challenge it for fear of reprisals.
The study said peace and stability were not the products of respect for a functional and popular system of governance but a product of fear of the political establishment to the extent that some believed the government had the right to punish its critics.
The study found that 74.4 per cent of the respondents who participated believed that ‘people who speak against the government must expect the government to punish them in any way it sees fit’.
SWAZI ARMY’S IDEA OF ‘PEACE’