Swaziland’s
ministry of home affairs has reportedly said that the changing of the country’s
name to the Kingdom of eSwatini “won’t happen overnight”.

The
ministry said this as it reacted to concerns that the renaming of the country
would have serious financial implications.

King Mswati III, one of the world’s few absolute monarchs, announced
last week that his country had changed its name to eSwatini
to mark 50 years since
independence from British rule.

“I would like to announce that Swaziland will now revert to its
original name,” Mswati said during independence day celebrations that were
held on Thursday.

“African countries on getting independence reverted to their ancient
names before they were colonised. So from now on the country will be officially
known as the Kingdom of eSwatini.”

In reaction, critics of the king, who took the throne in
1986 aged 18, said the move was an example of his authoritarian and wasteful
reign in a country that suffers dire poverty, said a report by AFP.

“We see here King Mswati’s autocratic style,” said Alvit Dlamini,
head of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, a political party which, like
others, is not allowed to run in elections.

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“He can’t change the name of the country on his own. He was supposed to
consult the nation.”

Dlamini said that the change would be expensive for Swaziland, where 63% of
the 1.3 million population live below the national poverty line, according the
World Food Programme.

“This will come with major cost implications, we are a broke
country,” he said.

But according
to SABC, Home Affairs Minister Princess Tsandzile Dlamini maintained
that the renaming process would be done “cautiously” to prevent high costs.

“The
issue has come at the rightful time, we are 50 years-old now. We were called by
the name that was used by the British, we are now taking back what belongs to
us. We are eSwatini, we are most grateful and happy about that. But talking to
letter heads of government to passport to everything it would have to take time
so that we finish the stock that we have,” she was quoted as saying.

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