SA-Swazi loan a waste
By Hassan Isilow
The South African Government should have stood its ground by insisting the Swazi monarch, King Mshwati III, first accepts democratic reforms before bailing him out financially. This is according to the Swaziland Solidarity Network.
Spokesperson Lucky Lukhele blamed the financial crisis in Africa’s last absolute monarchy on the king.
“The economic meltdown in Swaziland is because of the king’s lavish lifestyle. And believe me; he is going to pocket half of the money he has received from South Africa.” Lukhele told Africa Witness in an interview.
Last month the South African Government offered a R2.4billion conditional rescue package to the kingdom which raised the ire of many pro-democracy activists. Some activists threatened to march to the Union Building in Pretoria to protest about the South Africa bail out. Lukhele said he had received information from Swaziland indicating the Queen Mother had hired a private jet to take her on holiday to Mauritius, along with 30 of her friends.
“I received information that the Queen mother had hired a private jet on Wednesday after South Africa offered the kingdom R2.4 billion. We condemn the South African Government because we believe they had blundered. They should have first put conditions on Swaziland before giving them the money, but now that they have given them the money, I’m certain Swaziland won’t institute any reforms.”
The Swazi king is becoming increasingly unpopular with many of his subjects insisting that he steps down. Besides his spendthrift ways, his polygamous life style – he has 13 wives, each of whom owns a palace – has not endeared him either.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday that South Africa could be in a tight spot if Swaziland does not honour the terms of a R2.4 billion loan, which include political reforms. “I think that Swazi authorities understand that they’ve got to deliver… within the agreed upon timelines and clearly the South African government would be placed in a difficult position if those timelines are not abided by,” Gordhan told the media.
This comes after government confirmed that it has granted Swaziland a conditional loan from the country’s Reserve Bank to the Central Bank of Swaziland. The loan will be made available in three equal trenches, with the first payment at the end of August, the second in October and the final payment in February 2012. The minister said negotiations of the loan had been in good faith, adding that “it is South Africa’s anticipation” that the money would be used properly and not squandered in what some many term as opulent spending.
The loan is granted on condition that Swaziland takes on confidence building measures, which is guided by an agreement on the establishment of a Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation (JBCC) between the two Governments. The JBCC promotes democracy and good governance.
Additional reporting BUANEWS