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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

SWAZILAND FAILS ITS IMF TARGETS

The Swaziland Government has failed to meet the targets it set itself for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF has now suggested the government cuts public expenditure further, but that the poor should not suffer.

This press release was issued by the IMF today (31 August 2011). SOURCE

Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Staff Mission to Swaziland

Press Release No. 11/318

A mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Mr. Joannes Mongardini, visited Swaziland during August 17-31, 2011. The mission held discussions on the first assessment under the Staff-Monitored Program (SMP) approved by IMF management on April 4, 2011.1

The mission met with the Prime Minister, His Excellency Dr. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini; the Minister of Finance, Hon. Majozi Sithole; the Governor of the Central Bank of Swaziland, Mr. Martin Dlamini; and other senior officials. The mission briefed members of parliament, and the Liqoqo Royal Advisory Council. It also held fruitful discussions with donors and representatives of the private sector.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Mongardini issued the following statement:

“The fiscal crisis in the Kingdom of Swaziland continues to deepen. In the period April-June 2011, expenditure overruns and lack of financing have led to the nonobservance of several targets under the Staff-Monitored Program. While the ceilings on domestic and external arrears were met, the targets on the overall government deficit (measured by its total financing requirement), government social spending, and the net domestic assets and net international reserves of the central bank were missed. On the structural side, most of the benchmarks were met. However, the benchmarks on the 240 million emalangeni cut in the wage bill and on the submission to Parliament of the Public Financial Management Bill were delayed. With many of the key targets and benchmarks not met, the mission was unable to conclude discussions on the first assessment under the SMP, which expired at end-June 2011.

“Against this background, the mission observed that economic activity remains subdued and inflation is on the rise. Electricity consumption, which can be used as a coincident indicator of economic activity in the absence of quarterly GDP data, declined in May 2011 while broad money growth remained subdued in June. Inflation increased to 6.3 percent in July 2011, reflecting higher international food prices. The gross international reserves of the central bank stood at 4.0 billion emalangeni (about $554 million) on August 26, 2011, equivalent to 2.2 months of import cover.

“The mission concurred with the authorities’ views that the government will continue to face severe liquidity constraints over the coming months, notwithstanding the recently-announced 2.4 billion rand loan from the South African authorities. In this context, the mission advised the government to pass a supplementary budget to cut expenditures, while preserving pro-poor spending, and strengthen expenditure controls in order to restore fiscal sustainability. In this context, recent steps by the government to eliminate unauthorized expenditure commitments should help. The quality of spending needs to be improved, with emphasis on education and health, particularly the fight against HIV/AIDS. The mission commended the authorities for the new anti-money laundering and procurement laws, enacted in August 2011, as they will significantly strengthen the anti-corruption framework, once implemented.

“The mission shared the authorities’ view that preserving the parity with the South African rand is of utmost priority. In this context, it urged the government to stop borrowing from the central bank and repay the outstanding emergency credit line from the central bank at the earliest possible convenience. In addition, the mission encouraged the authorities to remain vigilant on developments in the financial sector.

“With the first SMP having gone off track, the authorities expressed an interest in a new SMP. The mission indicated that approval by IMF management of a new SMP would be conditional on a number of prior actions, including passage of a supplementary budget to reduce the wage bill and capital expenditures in line with available financing. Discussions will continue in the context of the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington, D.C. in September 2011.

“The mission would like to thank the authorities for the frank and constructive discussions.”


1 A staff-monitored program is an informal and flexible instrument for dialogue between the IMF staff and a member country on its economic policies. Under a staff-monitored program the country's targets and policies are monitored by the IMF staff; a staff-monitored program is not supported by the use of the Fund's financial resources; nor is it subject to the endorsement of the Executive Board of the IMF.

CALL TO SUPPORT SWAZI STUDENTS

Swaziland Solidarity Network

Statement

31 August 2011

Link

SOURCE


SSN urges all Swazis to protest over student allowances

The Swaziland Solidarity Network would like to urge all its solidarity partners to protest against the Swaziland government’s very bizarre decision to reduce tertiary students’ allowances by 60%.


This decision is bizarre because for many years the students in the country have been protesting that the allowances given to them no longer sustained them due to the fact that they were never adjusted annually to cater for inflation.

With the current fiscal crisis, the government has not only ignored the students’ please for an increase in their allowances but has reduced them to an amount that effectively makes it impossible for most students to continue with their studies.

Most students in Swaziland come from very poor backgrounds where their tertiary education is the only hope of them escaping the cycle of poverty. Such students are known to use the little allowances that they get from the Swazi government to help their younger siblings through school and to help them with their living expenses.

With the cut in student’s allowances, the Swazi government is effectively raising saying that only those students who come from well to do families will be able to afford to have tertiary education.


The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) has already taken a lead in this matter by planning a protest action on Friday, the 2nd of September. We urge all other organizations to join in this protest in order to let the students’ voices be heard.

Issued By the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]

GLOBAL WEEK DAILY NEWS ED 2

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Daily News – Day 2

31 August 211

Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) Daily News No 2, Wednesday 31st August

This Daily News is the second edition of what we hope will be an e-bulletin to help build the Global Week of Action on Swaziland, and to follow up what happens afterwards!

The SDC seeks to try and maximise support and solidarity with the people of Swaziland for a democratic Swaziland, and to undertake this vital work in a principled and non-sectarian manner.

There are now fifteen chapters of the SDC in different parts of the world, and we hope to be able to report on the activities they are involved in, as well as the excellent solidarity work that is undertaken by other organisations.

Visit the SDC website for regular updates and to find out details of actions that are underway www.swazidemocracy.org

Momentum for Global Week of Action Builds Up

The Swaziland United Democratic Front, involving the union movement, faith based and civil society organisations and the SDC have planned an extensive programme of action in Swaziland for the Week of Action. They have also said that they will welcome all those who come to Swaziland to show solidarity.

Marches are now scheduled for Monday 5th in Mbabane, Tuesday 6th in Manzini, the 7th & 8th will involve mobilisations in a range of different regions, and then on Friday 9th a major rally in Mbabane. Unions and Civil Society organisations from South Africa and across the region have committed to joining in the marches and showing their solidarity with the Swazi workers and people.

In other parts of Africa, events have been planned in most countries through the ITUC-Africa with memorandums being handed into Swazi offices where they exist, and to South African offices if they do not. There has simply not been a continental mobilisation on this scale. Over the next few days we will give more details.

All Eyes on Swaziland and How it Reacts to Democratic Protests

The Swazi regime would be well advised to behave well in the next few weeks...... if it can. The entire world is now watching how it reacts to the protests that are planned for next week. If they repeat the mass arrests, bullying, physical and verbal abuse that was meted out to perfectly innocent protesters last year, they can expect an outraged reaction from a range of important bodies.

The South African government itself will be anxious to avoid a repeat performance when South African trade unionists were subjected to shocking forced deportations laced with insults about Alliance Partners. If the regime abuse visitors and residents on this occasion, it will throw into sharp relief the terms of the recent bailout. A key conditionality, though vague, is to ‘build confidence’ towards democratisation. If the Swazi police continue to behave like their counterparts did under apartheid, the South African government will be placed under intense pressure to withhold a tranche of the bailout.

To make matters worse for the regime, the United Nations Human Rights Council will be reviewing Swaziland’s track record on October 4th and if anything happens between now and then, a report to them will definitely be submitted by Swazi civil society. Furthermore, last year Swaziland was severely criticised at the annual International Labour Conference in Geneva, and is currently under review. If they behave as they did last year, they can expect more than a rap on the knuckles!

We know that some of our readers will be hope those of our readers who are part of the regime will read this section very carefully and remember the following. You might be watching the democracy movement, but the world is watching you!

Legal Fraternity Join in Democracy Protests

The legal fraternity, still stinging with anger about the flagrant manipulation of the law by the Chief Justice when hearing the fabricated case against outspoken Judge Masuku, have decided to continue to express their anger in action! They are joining the SUDF and Trade Union march on Monday 5th September and are demanding the recall of the Chief Justice and for measures to restore the integrity of the justice system as a whole. This is a further indication of how the growing confidence of the democracy movement encourages all other sections of society to take the side of progress.

Don’t Forget The Detainees and Political Prisoners

As we busy ourselves making sure that the Global Week of Action is a success, let’s not forget those who are languishing in Mswati’s prisons for no other reason than they have stood up for democracy, and against corruption and misrule. One of the key demands of the democracy movement is for the release of political prisoners, and for the immediate release of those who have been incarcerated under the universally condemned Suppression of Terrorism Act, which is nothing more than a repressive blanket to stifle dissent. We especially remember detainees Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, the courageous student leaders who are being denied even the minimalist rights afforded other prisoners and Amos Mbedzi, Bheki Dlamini and Zonke Dlamini who were convicted on very dubious grounds under the draconian Act. Lets remember them when we march in Swaziland, and when we picket the Reserve Bank and the High Commissions/Embassies in more than thirty locations next week. Lets remind Governments everywhere that these comrades are being held in appalling conditions because they acted against dictatorship. Release them now!

If you wish to contribute to the SDC Daily News, please e-mail steve.faulkner@samwu.org.za

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

SWAZIS 'LIKE POLITICAL PARTIES'

People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)

Statement

30 August 2011

SOURCE

PUDEMO has always maintained that the regime is feeding the world poison when it claims that the people of Swaziland do not want political parties.

At the time Swaziland was preparing for independence in 1968 there were at least six active parties. Since the banning of political parties in 1973, fifteen political parties have been established in defiance of this law. This year alone two parties have been established. Our sources inform us that a new one is likely to be formed on the 3rd of September. We welcome this because it strengthens our case for demanding the unbanning of political parties and the return of all political exiles.

The picture demonstrated is that of a people yearning for multiparty democracy. The world must not be misled by the Mswati regime.

The Country is facing a crisis all round:

The university has been closed indefinitely due to shortage of money

Public servants are retrenched

The king is demanding a commission of a quarter of the bailout Swaziland got from South Africa

Already, there are strong indications that the bailout will not be used for what it was intended for.

We will continue to engage all authorities engaged on the Swazi bailout saga using all channels available to us an organisation. While we have indicated our anger we will not resort to public insults. We will follow the right channels.

PUDEMO calls on everyone to intensify the call for democracy in Swaziland. All our allies around the world must engage in activities in their countries to raise the issues of Swaziland. We will be on the streets with our internal allies and partners in the Global week of action starting 5 September.