Inhlase Centre for Investigative Journalism

Since June 2021, Eswatini has been thrown into turmoil – the worst in the country’s post-colonial history – as pro-democracy protestors have taken to the streets to express dissatisfaction with the rule of King Mswati III who has been in power since 1986. Demonstrators are demanding a wide range of political and economic reforms.

To date, 70 people have been killed according to official figures, but civil society activists believe the number is much higher. ‘The Palpable Stirrings of change in Eswatini’ series seeks to record the momentum for democratic change in Eswatini.

Here are the articles developed in the series “The Fall of the Eswatini Monarchy” or “The Stirrings of Change in eSwatini”

Democratic pressure: Africa’s last absolute monarch examines how the traditional support base for the monarchy – the rural areas – have already turned against the King and are leading the charge against him.

Let the Dog Die – Eswatini citizens under attack” proves beyond any shadow of doubt the unchecked police brutality meted out to the pro-democracy protesters and innocent bystanders during the political unrest.

Royal Control: Only the loyal get picked” unearths royal nepotism which defines the Swazi state and makes a mockery of the separation of powers in the parliamentary representative system. This piece examined the greater extent to which King Mswati III has filled all positions in parliament, judiciary and executive with royal family members and loyalists across the state to serve his own personal and his family’s interests. The King’s nepotism has provoked the anger of the unemployed young people who blamed the royal family of swimming in riches while the 63% of 1.2 population is ravaged by poverty.

Royal Riches – the business of being king” attempts to follow the money of the King’s investment vehicle. All the efforts to dig up information on his offshore investments from the Panama and Paradise Papers proved futile as the King cleverly uses his loyalists as fronts. This investigative story shows how the king has amassed his fortunes through the royal investment company, Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, with stakes in many leading companies. He also owns private businesses such as Silulu Royal Holdings grabbing state farms and leases them out to interested agriculture industries.