Swazis may face widespread hunger following an admission from the Swazi Government that it does not have the money to subsidise farming this year.
In particular Swaziland staple food - maize - will be badly affected.
Minister of Agriculture Clement Dlamini said there ‘was no money in place’ to subsidise the cost to farmers of seeds, fertiliser and other necessities.
He said without the subsidies it was impossible to ensure food security.
In the recent past about 600,000 people of Swaziland’s one million population have received food aid from international agencies.
Dlamini now hopes that the NGO World Vision will be able to come up with a plan to help. World Vision has been investigating how countries such as Zambia and Malawi organise their own farming and Dlamini hopes it can recommend to the Swazi Government how to move forward.
(Incidentally, in Malawi last year it was reported people were denied farm subsidies if they hadn’t voted in the national elections. I hope something similar is not on the Swazi agenda.)
Dlamini admission that money is not in place is puzzling because the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation has previously announced aid to the Swazi Government to provide assistance to Swaziland farmers. This was announced as part of a Swazi Government strategy on farming.
But Dlamini is now saying that no strategy exists and he must rely on the good works of World Vision to get Swaziland out of this mess.
Did Dlamini forget about the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation? Or does he hope the rest of us will? Maybe the UN funds have disappeared.
Who knows? I certainly don’t, but I do know that Dlamini and his fellow government ministers are letting the people of Swaziland down badly. As the ordinary Swazi family face hunger and possible starvation Swaziland’s Government ministers and MPs pocket their pay rises and bury their heads in the sand.