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Swaziland - Foreign Relations

Swaziland is a member of the Commonwealth and the United Nations (UN). Swaziland was a member of the African Union (the former Organisation of African Unity), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) (the former Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference) long before a free and democratic South Africa emerged in 1994. At the same time she is a founding member of Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), the oldest existing customs union in the world that was established in 1910.

Ten accredited ambassadors or honorary consuls are resident in the country. Swaziland maintains diplomatic missions in Brussels, Copenhagen, Kuala Lumpur, London, Maputo, Nairobi, Pretoria, Taipei, the United Nations, and Washington.

The area that potentially had the greatest impact on USG interests in the region in the 1970s was Swaziland's foreign policy and relations with South African liberation movements. Swaziland was forced by economic, transportation, and political realities into maintaining good relations with both of its disparate neighbors, white-ruled South Africa and black-ruled marxist Mozambique. However, the Swazi Government makes little effort to disassociate itself from south africa and has been eagerly strengthening their economic ties. The major reason for this is that the reactionary monarchy/traditionalist structure has the same enemies that the sag has -young radical blacks who want to overturn the status quo.

In order to maintain good relations with the reast of black africa, swaziland has allowed its territory to become a major exit and re-entry route for liberation movement members subject to two restrictions. First, swazis are not to be recruited; and, secondly, camps, (which would invite sag intervention) not be opened.

As long as Sobhuza remained on the throne, this policy was maintained. However, his successor was subjected to increased pressure to allow liberation movements a higher level of activity. The traditionalist sector, which is basically uninterested in political affairs in RSA, continued to urge that Swaziland remain uninvolved. The key group was the modern progressive Swazis who sympathized with the liberation movements but still did not want to see Swaziland become a "frontline state."

South Africa's relations with the Kingdom of Swaziland, one of Africa's smallest nationswhich South Africa surrounds on the north, west, and southwere shaped by the kingdom's complete dependence on its powerful neighbor for its economic and political well-being. During the 1970s and early 1980s, although Swaziland claimed to be neutral in the East-West conflict, it was actually pro-Western and maintained strong relations with South Africa, including clandestine cooperation in economic and security matters. South Africa invested heavily in Swaziland's economy, and Swaziland joined the Pretoria-dominated SACU.

Although there is no external threat directed against Swaziland, its territorial integrity was occasionally violated when insurgent or counterinaurgent operations spill over from South Africa and Mozambique. Two such raids took place, in June and December 1986, respectively.

During the 1980s, some South African businesses also used Swazi territory as a transshipment point in order to circumvent international sanctions on South Africa. Relying on a secret security agreement with South Africa in 1982, Swazi officials harassed ANC representatives in the capital, Mbabane, and eventually expelled them from Swaziland. South African security forces, operating undercover, also carried out operations against the ANC on Swazi territory.

South Africa and Mozambique surround this landlocked country, and Swaziland attemptrf to maintain correct relations with. In this regard, Swaziland ess especially sensitive to refugee and South Africii ins activities within its boundaries. Until early 1984, the African National Congress (ANC), a South African insurgent group, was allowed in Swaziland; however, it was not permitted to conduct military operations and was closely watched by the police. In an effort to curb insurgent activity in its territory, the Swazi Government established a central processing center to handle South African refugees in order to increase Swazi control over the activities of the refugees and lessen the likelihood of South African incursions. The 16 March 1984 signing of the Nkomati Accord, a nonaggression pact between South Africa and Mozambique, caused a large number of ANC guerrillas to flee the latter country and seek sanctuary and safehouses in Swaziland. Previously, ANC activities in Swaziland had been severely restricted due to dose cooperation between the Swazi and South African intelligence services and police forces.

On 31 March 1984, the Swazi and South African Governments publicly revealed the existence of a 2-year-old security agreement between the two countries that provided for cooperation in countering insurgent activities. This announcement was followed in early April by the expulsion of a number of ANC refugees and guerrillas by the Swazi government. After a Swazi police officer was killed while trying to arrest several ANC activists, Swazi police and military forces intensified their efforts to rid Swaziland of ANC personnel and conducted several raids against the ANC during which two of the guerrillas were killed. Increased military and police cooperation with South Africa and harsh anti-ANC policies by the Swazi Government resulted in a nearly total ANC withdrawal from Swaziland in 1986. The South Africans conducted a number of small-scale cross-border raids into Swaziland against ANC targets. A December 1986 raid in which two Swiss citizens were kidnapped and two Swazis killed, drew criticism from the Swazi Government itself, and proved to be an embarrassment to the South African Government. However, in 1987 South Africa continued cross-border operations resulting in the deaths of at least six ANC operatives and the abduction of several more.

Throughout this time, part of the Swazi royal family quietly sought the reintegration of Swazi-occupied territory in South Africa into their kingdom. Talks were held between the two governments concerning the transfer of the South African homeland, Kanewane, to Swazi sovereignty. South Africa also sought to increase Swazi vigilance against ANC border vio1ations by holding out the possibility of territorial concessions.

In June 1993, South Africa and Swaziland signed a judicial agreement providing for South African judges, magistrates, and prosecutors to serve in Swaziland's courts. South Africa also agreed to provide training for Swazi court personnel. In August 1995, the two countries signed an agreement to cooperate in anti-crime and anti-smuggling efforts along their common border.

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Page last modified: 03-05-2017 19:11:14 ZULU