Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan today (11 August 2011) Thursday defended a controversial R2.4-billion bail-out for Swaziland and said he hoped it would encourage democratic shifts in Africa's last absolute monarchy, the Mail and Guardian, South Africa reports.
South Africa has come in for criticism over the loan from Swazi activists, who had lobbied Pretoria to withhold the bail-out until Swaziland's King Mswati III agreed to democratic reforms.
"Will this loan encourage genuine change? We hope so," Gordhan told journalists.
"I think it's in the interests of Swaziland that there are changes in that country which are compatible with what the Swazi population want, which allows for free and open political activity and ... respect for the position of his majesty on the one hand and democratic institutions on the other hand.
"But that's for the Swazi people to actually develop for themselves."
The South African government is acting as guarantor to the R2.4-billion loan from the Reserve Bank to the central bank of Swaziland, backed by payments from a regional customs union.
To read the full Mail and Guardian report, click here.