Foreigners will be barred from operating 31 types of businesses in Swaziland if the unelected government in the kingdom gets its way.
The acting Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Phiwayinkhosi Mabuza introduced a proposed Reservation of Certain Trades and Businesses for Swazi Citizens Regulations 2017 to the Swazi Parliament.
The businesses listed in the regulations include a dealer in household and proprietary, grocery, produce and handwork, private investigator, dealer or speculator in livestock, debt collector, street vendor and funeral parlour, among others.
The APA news agency reported that foreigners who were already in these businesses would not be affected, but only new entrants would not be granted licenses.
The Federation of the Swazi Business Community (FESBC) welcomed the move.
It comes as antagonism to "Asians" in Swaziland grows. The kingdom of 1.3 million people is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch. The King appoints the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The kingdom's economy has been in the doldrums for years but immigrants have managed to create small businesses throughout Swaziland.
Newspapers in Swaziland have been reporting scare stories against Asians for months. In November 2016, the Observer on Saturday reported Swaziland's Director of Public Prosecutions Nkosinathi Maseko saying, 'most nationals of Asian origin were associated with terrorist activities'.
It reported he told this to a parliamentary select committee set up to investigate what the newspaper called an 'influx of illegal immigrants' into the kingdom.
The newspaper reported Maseko had said, 'it was public information that most nationals of Asian origin were associated with terrorist activities; and their continued entry illegally put the country and its citizens at high risk of being a nucleus for terrorist activities.'
Maseko and the Observer gave no evidence to support this.
In October 2016,the Times of Swaziland reported traditional authorities in the Ngcina Chiefdom in Swaziland had ordered a man to close his grocery business and leave the area because he is Asian.