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Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, wants the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail out Swaziland as it hurtles towards financial meltdown.

This is even though his government last week announced plans to give him E1.6 million and his deputy Themba Masuku E1.4 million when they leave office. In total politicians will get more than E60 million (8.5 million US dollars) in severance pay from the taxpayer when the present parliament ends in 2013.

This in a kingdom of about one million people where seven in ten live in abject poverty, earning less than one US dollar a day.

With the European Union’s rejection of a budget bailout ringing in his ears, Dlamini is running out of options and the IMF could be his last shot.

He and his advisors have drawn up what they grandly call a ‘Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap’ and they are now in Washington to try to convince the IMF that they can be trusted to run a stable economy. If the IMF has any sense it will look at what the government actually does with its money and not what it says it will do and send Dlamini packing.

In August 2010 the IMF and the World Bank refused to support Swaziland in an application for a loan from the African Development Bank. They said the Swazi Government was irresponsible in its running of the economy and had repeatedly refused to heed warnings that its public spending was out of control. Central to this was the government’s insistence in expanding the civil service when all advice was to do the opposite.

Campaigners who want to see democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, say that no organisation should offer assistance to Swaziland without cast iron guarantees that it will respect human rights, allow political parties and move towards becoming a constitutional monarchy.

According to a Swazi Government statement, during the meeting with the IMF, ‘Swaziland also wants to demonstrate to the world that it is ready to take and implement tough and bitter decisions in order to attain fiscal sustainability in the medium term.’

If it really wanted to do this it would move towards democratic reform immediately and hold elections involving political parties. Only by demonstrating that it genuinely wants to move away from the present discredited regime can it hope to ‘demonstrate to the world’ that it can break out of the cycle of decline.

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