Sikhuphe International Airport will be completed by the end of July 2011. It isn’t intended to be a rival to OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.
It will service tourists to South Africa’s Kruger National Park and Mozambique and the airport is in discussion with airlines over this. An export zone will be created around the airport as a ‘central node and feed into the region’. An agricultural trade port similar to Durban’s Dube Tradeport will be created.
Welcome back to my Fantasy Watch game. The above statements were all reportedly uttered by Zizwe Vilane, Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority’s director of foreign investment, who is trying to justify the existence of Sikhuphe, the vanity project of King Mswati III, that it is estimated will have cost US$1 billion by the time it is completed (if it ever is).
Vilane is just making it up as he goes along. And the lies should stop now: it’s getting embarrassing.
The latest outpouring was reported in South Africa’s Business Day newspaper today (23 March 2011).
Business Day reported that last week Vilane said Swaziland, ‘wanted to create an export zone around its new airport that would act as a “central node and feed into the region”’.
He said Swaziland had entered into an agreement with Kuwait to export vegetable produce to the Persian Gulf region. What he didn’t say is why Swaziland needed to spend US$1 billion on a new airport to transport this.
The newspaper reports Phiwayinkosi Ginindza, Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority chief executive, saying the airport would be completed in four months, and was awaiting certification by the International Air Transport Association.
It could not compete with OR Tambo, but would enter into a complementary relationship with Africa’s biggest airport, he said.
‘The new airport will be the closest to the Kruger National Park and Mozambique. We are negotiating with airlines [to service those routes],’ Mr Ginindza said.
Of course, there’s absolutely no reason why we should believe a word of any of this. Not many other promises about the airport have been kept. Many intended completion dates have come and gone; contracts with airlines said to be eager to use the airport have not materialized and previously stated justifications for building the airport have been exposed as bogus.
But, Swaziland continues to throw good money after bad at the airport. That’s what you get when your country is run by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
People are either too scared to tell him his idea for an airport is nonsense, or they have their snouts in the trough and are making personal fortunes from the project.