24 June 2011
The Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa wish to register their concern at the financial bailout by the South African Treasury of the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
It is understood that an amount of R10 Billion is needed to keep the Swazi Government afloat and the administration from collapsing.
Swaziland is currently in the throes of an unprecedented financial and societal crisis. It has
- the highest HIV & AIDS infection rate in the world (26%);
- the lowest life expectancy in the world (32 years);
- an unemployment rate of 40% and rising;
- and extreme poverty with 70% of its population living below the poverty line of less than US$6 a day.
- a State of Emergency that has curtailed freedom of expression, association and dissent for the last 37 years.
We believe that the Swaziland Government must abandon or at least reform the "Tinkhundla" system of governance of royal favour and alliance which is a breeding place for corruption and greed. Monies intended for alleviating the people's suffering are diverted to support the lavish lifestyle of the monarchy.
The People of Swaziland love their King and Country, but the conditions that have created this crisis must not be disregarded by South Africa in considering a bailout.
We therefore call on the South African Government to make the loan CONDITIONAL on the following:
- the recognition and implementation the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Swaziland;
- the revocation by King Mswati III of the royal decree of 12 April 1973 which established a state of emergency;
- that King Mswati III enter into meaningful dialogue with his people in order to facilitate movement towards true democracy his country;
- the establishment of a democratic process for writing a new constitution in which all Swazi's have a part;
- that the current Swazi Constitution be amended to reinstate the full range of human rights; and
- that none of the bailout money go directly or indirectly to fund the Monarchy.
In the same way that the South African Government has laudable process examining the sale of Arms to other countries, the same type of process should be employed when it comes to financial support for ailing regional economies.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban
Spokesman for the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference. The SACBC is constituted by the Catholic Bishops of Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa.