The change of name from Swaziland to eSwatini has been made official through a gazette signed by His Majesty King Mswati III.
The change was announced by King Mswati on April 19 during the double celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Swazi independence and of his 50th birthday.
Mswati explained the change by highlighting the fact that his country needed a name his people could identify with. Swazis have in the past complained of being confused with Switzerland in international fora.
In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 64 (3) of the Constitution of Swaziland Act No. 1 of 2005, I, Mswati III, King and Ingwenyama of Eswatini makes the declaration that the name of the Kingdom of Swaziland is changed to Kingdom of Eswatini.
“In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 64 (3) of the Constitution of Swaziland Act No. 1 of 2005, I, Mswati III, King and Ingwenyama of Eswatini makes the declaration that the name of the Kingdom of Swaziland is changed to Kingdom of Eswatini,’‘ read the gazette.
Mswati’s critics however said the change of name would be costly to the country in terms of updating paperwork, official documents for Swazi citizens among others.
The official gazette called Legal Notice No. 80 of 2018 states that reference in any written law or international agreement or legal document to Swaziland shall be read and construed as reference to Eswatini.
This would take care of concerns that the name change would affect Swazi interests in organisations like the African Union, the United Nations and international protocols and agreements.
The citizens of the country shall also henceforth be called Emaswati, a noun that is in plural form of which the singular form is Liswati.
Unlike some countries, Swaziland did not change its name when it gained independence in 1968 after being a British protectorate for more than 60 years.
The new name had been mooted for several years, with lawmakers considering the issue in 2015, and the king has used eSwatini in previous official speeches.