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    2017: An unforgiving year for Swazis

    APA-Mbabane (Swaziland)

    If there are more immediate things Swazis want desperately, it would be the glad tidings of a new year after a torrid twelve months when a combination of drought and economic morass conspired to make 2017 unforgiving.

    This is because 2017 has not been a particularly good year in almost all aspects of human endeavour in Swaziland.

    The struggling economy a rise in crime are their main concerns.

    Most of the challenges were inherited from 2016 being the results of long spells of drought.

    This led to a huge drop in maize yields and insufficient water supplies that prompted massive water rationing especially in the capital Mbabane.

    The sugar cane industry, which accounts for about 60 percent of the country's economy, also suffered a blow as irrigation means were reduced and due to uncertainties, most sugar cane farmers suspended the crop.

    A battle of religions also reared its ugly head after the government took a brash decision to ban all faiths from being taught in all public schools, except for Christianity.

    This drew public outrage as people felt the government was deliberately targeting or censuring Islam, Bahai Faith and Judaism which were taught in Swazi schools.

    Among the worst development of 2017 is the current ban of beef exports from Swaziland to the European Union.

    According to experts, this has cost Swazi beef farmers over $2 million over the past three months given that they normally export 500 metric tonnes of beef worth $7.9 million per year.

    The ban came after Swaziland received a gift of three buffaloes from Zambian President Edgar Lungu for the purposes of attracting tourists.

    The argument by the regional market gurus was that meat from Swaziland could carry threat of the Foot and Mouth disease.

    As the year drew to a close Swaziland made a historic drug bust where foreign national Katala Nasser Muhamed aged 37 was caught with cocaine worth $2 million while trying to cross the Ngwenya border to South Africa.

    Muhamed presented himself as a Tanzanian national in court two weeks ago, but there is no evidence that proves his nationality so far.

    He was coming from Mozambique with the consignment while driving in a Kia Sportage SUV.

    The drugs were stuffed in plastic bags of 2kg each and they had crushed chillies sprinkled around them to deter sniffer dogs from picking their smell.

    Meanwhile MPs went on a recess before debating a report that was tabled by a select team probing the influx of foreigners, with focus on Asian nationals in Swaziland.

    The probe uncovered that Asians formed 11.7 per cent of Swaziland's population as they are 129, 000 out of 1.1 million people.

    The Asians were seen as a threat to indigenous SMEs because most of them allegedly came to Swaziland as investors but operate small businesses that are reserved for locals.


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