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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

SWAZILAND ON BRINK OF RUIN

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not about to offer Swaziland a loan any time soon to save its economy.


Instead, because of years of financial mismanagement by King Mswati III and his puppet government, up to 10,000 public servants, including teachers and nurses, will have to lose their jobs.


The impact on the ordinary Swazi people will be devastating as it is estimated that every Swazi pay packet supports at least 10 people. That means 100,000 people – one in ten of the kingdom’s population – will be hit.


And in an economy that has precious few jobs in the private sector, this will result in almost unimaginable hardship for people.


Yesterday (8 November 2010), Joannes Mongardini of the IMF’s Africa department, announced that the IMF was not ready to support Swaziland in its bid to get international loans to support the economy.


Instead, the IMF wants the government to implement an economic recovery plan that includes cutting its civil service by up to 10,000 people (from an estimated 35,000).


The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, predicted the job losses would lead to ‘of social strife, a rise in criminality and deepening poverty’.


Last month, Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland, predicted ‘social upheaval’ if civil servants were not allowed the salary increases they had been promised this year. If ‘social upheaval’ was to be the result of a mere pay freeze, what does Dlamini now expect to happen with up to 10,000 jobs axed?

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Coordinator, Musinga Bandora, said that ‘political will’ is all that is required to save Swaziland’s ailing economy. But he seems to forget that it is the same politicians who are in control today who got Swaziland into this mess. Finance Minister Majozi Sithole has been in his job for 10 years. He is hopeless and has no policy to save the Swazi economy.

The IMF has been predicting disaster for the Swazi economy for many years. It said the government was spending money recklessly (just think of King Mswati’s vanity project Sikhuphe ‘international’ Airport, for example). It said that the government employed too many civil servants for a nation of its size. Today the government wage bill is 18 per cent of the gross domestic product.

Despite years of warnings from the IMF, the Swazi ‘leaders’ thought they knew better.

Now, with money running out to pay its salaries and bills for goods and services, the Swazi Government has brought the kingdom to its knees.

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