After I wrote on Sunday (2 August 2009) that Swaziland was heading for an economic meltdown because income from the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) would be halved this year I got a number of private emails telling me it’s not the fault of the Swazi Government because the whole world is in financial crisis.
Sorry but that’s not true. It is the Swazi Government’s fault and the fault of the Swazi ‘tradition’ that allows King Mswati III and his hangers-on to siphon off Swaziland’s wealth for their own use.
The IMF was very clear, ‘When the rest of sub-Saharan Africa was growing over the last decade, the economy of the Kingdom of Swaziland stagnated.’
In a report IMF Survey Magazine it said, ‘The slow growth may have worsened already difficult conditions in the tiny, landlocked country where in 2001, the latest year for which there are data, about two-thirds of its 1 million residents lived in poverty and 20 percent of the population claimed two-thirds of the income.’
The report identified a number of issues that needed to be addressed, including reforms in the banking and finance sector, but mostly the size of the civil service. As recently as yesterday the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, was reporting the IMF yet again calling for civil service reform.
As I said on Sunday, the Swazi Government has consistently ignored the IMF advice and instead of cutting the civil service bill it has increased it. Last month it announced a 12 percent pay rise for civil servants.
We should be in no doubt that the Swazi Government has no sense when it comes to running the economy.
In February 2009 I drew attention to the inaccuracies in the Swazi national budget and in particular Finance Minister Majozi Sithole’s inability to do his sums, especially when it came to counting unemployment in the kingdom and the alleged interest the kingdom would get on a deposit (illegally) paid for a private jet for King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.(Click here for fuller details.)
In March 2009 I pointed out that the official budget figures presented by Sithole were riddled with inconsistencies and in many cases quite simply didn’t add up.
I wanted to know why Sithole got away with this. Did he lie to Parliament (and if so why?) or is he no good at his job? I asked.
Nobody gave me an answer then. Perhaps readers thought it was a rhetorical question. It wasn’t, but the answer to my question is obvious: Sithole and the Swazi Government are no good at their jobs. They have brought Swaziland to the brink of collapse and since they are the ones who got us here, we can have no confidence that they will get us out of this mess.