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Kingdom of Eswatini

South Africa Time Zone UTC+02:00

 Capital City  Mbabane

Currency Swazi lilangeni

National Day  6 September

Her Excellency Ms Thandazile Mbuyisa
High Commissioner
Kingdom of Eswatini High Commission
20 Buckingham Street
London SW1E 6LB
T: 020 7630 6611
F: 020 7630 6564
E: enquiries@swaziland.org.uk

Eswatini’s High Commissioner Her Excellency Ms Thandazile Mbuyisa arrived in the capital to start her posting the weekend of The Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. She came to London with her two children aged 15 and 16, and she’s thankful they have since settled well into school.  They managed to soak up some of the positive ambiance from the royal occasion by watching it on television in their hotel. But just a month or so later cameone of the most memorable days of her career to date: “the presentation of my credentials to The Queen. It was very special. Although the ceremony wasn’t held in person like they were previously, it was certainly a career highlight. I must have been one of the last few, so I was really honoured. Her Majesty led the conversation and made it all so easy for me.”

Of course, just a few weeks later, High Commissioner Mbuyisa welcomed a VIP delegation from Eswatini to attend Her Majesty’s funeral. “We had to organise things over the space of a short weekend, which could have been stressful, but our delegation wasn’t too big, and I think it all worked out quite well.” She was then proud to observe first-hand King Charles III’s first address to the Houses of Parliament. “Witnessing these things up close, I was really impressed with the pomp, ceremony and order of the way things are done in this country. Even the Changing of the Guard is very impressive.”

Growing up as one of three siblings (two brothers and one sister), the High Commissioner is the only member of the family working for the government. “Before I joined the foreign service, I was working for a bank. My family was quite surprised by my decision to leave a career that they considered to be a safe trajectory! I had interviewed for the civil service, but there were not enough vacancies, so I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008. I was in the capital for three years working in administration, which was great experience for what was to come. Then I was posted as First Secretary at the High Commission in South Africa, and then in 2017, I was posted to the Eswatini Permanent mission to the United Nations in New York.”

The High Commissioner admits that although the job title of First Secretary was the same, these were two quite different roles. “South Africa was a busy bilateral mission, and we worked closely with regional organisations like the South African Customs Union (SACU), South African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). At Eswatini’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, however, I was allocated the Third Committee that deals with humanitarian, social and cultural issues. It was a diverse and busy committee that covered many items including women, youth and social responsibilities.”

Now as High Commissioner in the UK, Ms Mbuyisa plans to “follow on from where my predecessor left off.” Her mandate includes “strengthening the relations between the UK and Eswatini, and especially the commercial ties that we have. And of course, our role at the mission is to support Eswatini nationals that live in the UK and are visiting here.”

She’s been delighted to observe that the UK-Eswatini relationship continues to go from strength-to-strength following Brexit.  “After the UK left the EU, Britain migrated to an Economic Partnership Agreement with SACU member states (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa), and Mozambique. “The entry into this agreement has clearly been a positive step for Eswatini, the UK and these other respective African countries.”

With COP27 just round the corner at the time of our meeting, High Commissioner Mbuyisa notes that climate issues are a high priority for Eswatini. “Eswatini is committed to climate action and to develop sustainable and equitable climate resilience. We are committed to further adhering to the objectives of the Paris Agreement and a delegation from Eswatini’s government will be attending the climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh in support.”

The High Commissioner admits she hopes to have time to indulge her passion for travelling again soon. “I’ve been to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games, but I know there is much more to see and visit in the UK.” Ever an optimist, the High Commissioner notes, “Eswatini was a bit disappointed not to receive a medal in the Games, but of course, it was a learning experience for us to do better next time.”

Clearly a dedicated diplomat, High Commissioner Mbuyisa admits her speed in climbing the career ladder maybe down to the fact “I am excellent at working with others to achieve a certain objective on time and with excellence.” We look forward to hearing more about this landlocked country (formerly named Swaziland) during Her Excellency’s tenure in the UK.

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