How can we believe Majozi Sithole, the Swaziland Minister of Finance, when he says that there will be no job losses in health and education, even though the Swazi Government will cut at least 7,000 jobs from its payroll?
Sithole reportedly said that regardless of the financial meltdown that is destroying the kingdom, there will be no impact on health and education.
‘Regardless of the crisis we are in, the health as well as the education sectors will not be affected by most of the changes that will follow suit,’ the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, reported him saying.
He also said that the government will not implement the 3 percent income tax that was to be imposed on the poor (or at least not ‘for a while’ - whatever that means). I hope this turns out to be true, but since the Swazi Government is in effect about to hand control over economic policy to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), I doubt it very much.
Regular readers of this blog will know that Sithole has presided over 10 years of mismanagement of the Swazi economy and he has been found out telling lies before.
He told the IMF this week that there was political will to solve the economic crisis. He said a decision had been taken in 2004 to reduce the civil service salary bill.
The government may have taken the ‘decision’, but it never implemented it and instead year by year increased the total salary bill. Even this year civil servants were awarded pay increases. Now, about half of all government spending goes on salaries and wages.
He previously claimed that the European Union would bail out the government and loan it money to pay civil service salaries. When independent observers asked the EU to confirm this, it said there were no plans to give Swaziland assistance with its budget.
Sithole continues to stick to his belief that foreigners will invest in the Swazi economy, despite all the evidence that they are not interested in investing beyond setting up a few textile sweatshops to exploit Swazi workers and pay them so little that they cannot afford to eat.
Joannes Mongardini, IMF team leader to Swaziland, has no doubt that the present economic crisis in Swaziland is the fault of the government for wasting money.
But Sithole believes he is on top of the crisis: a major part of his plan to get income is to increase the amount the government collects from traffic fines.