The European Union (EU) will not help to bail out Swaziland from its present budget crisis.
Once Sithole announced this, in an attempt to reassure government workers they would receive their salaries this month (October 2010), progressives fighting for democratic reform protested to the EU.
Now, in a letter to Africa Contact, Denmark, the EU position has been made crystal clear – no budget support for Swaziland.
Claudia Wiedey-Nippold, on behalf of the EU, wrote, ‘I can assure you that there are no plans to channel EU funds into the Swazi national budget in the near future.’
Nor is there likely to be until at least 2013. Ms Wiedey-Nippold wrote, ‘The EU-Swaziland multi-annual country strategy for the period 2008-2013 does not foresee the use of general budget support since Swaziland does not fulfil the required eligibility conditions. Instead, EU assistance is delivered via project support with water, health and education as focal sectors.’
This couldn’t be clearer and Finance Minister must have known this – or at least he should have.
So why did he mislead the Swazi people into thinking that help from the EU was a viable way to tackle the budget crisis?
The most likely answer considering his ten-year track record of mismanagement is that he hasn’t got a clue on how to tackle the budget and he is just whistling in the dark.