Sea Fever - Swaziland's Quest for Maritime Power

By Peter Fabricius, ISS Consultant

King Canute famously tried to order the waves to retreat. Now Swaziland’s King Mswati proposes to go one better, by ordering them to advance. Last month his Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Gideon Dlamini lent his government’s full support to a project announced by a business consortium to construct a seaport. ‘At government level, we are fully behind the project and we are giving it undivided support,’ Dlamini told the Swaziland Times. ‘The project owners have conducted presentations to Cabinet and we interrogated it and found that it is a wonderful one. Following Cabinet’s realisation that the project is good and viable, Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini subsequently tasked the different concerned ministries to start working together with the project owners straight away.’

A quick glance at the map will reveal that Swaziland has no coastline. No matter. Business billionaire Moses Motsa, the project leader, intends to dig a 26 km long canal from the Indian Ocean south of Maputo, west across Mozambique to the town of Mlawula, in Swaziland’s northeast corner. There a harbour big enough to berth four ships at a time will be built on 15 to 20 hectares of land at a cost of R30 billion.