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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

FINANCE MINISTER RUNS FOR COVER

Majozi Sithole, Swaziland’s Finance Minister, has refused to take responsibility for the kingdom’s economic disaster and instead wants us to believe that the kingdom’s ills are caused by office cleaners claiming overtime payments they didn’t work for.


In an interview with the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, and unpublished on the Internet, Sithole says government is unable to control the number of people it has working for it because it finds it difficult to retrench workers.


The Government is stuck with its workers for life, he says.


Sithole also blames the general economic decline in Swaziland on outside factors, such as the general downturn in the world’s economy and the drying up of receipts from the Southern African Customs Union.


Sithole and his government cronies have been peddling this lie for a long time. This is even though the Swazi economy consistently underperformed other nations in the sub-Saharan Africa region for years before the global crisis began.


In another part of the economic forest, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) showed that foreign direct investment going into Swaziland fell drastically, from about E529.3 million (67 million US dollars) between 1990 and 2000 to about E52.14 million (6.6 million US dollars) between 2003 and 2007.


Sithole and the Swazi Government must accept the blame for this mismanagement of the economy.


Sithole also ignores the explicit criticism that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made earlier this month (November 2010) about the way the Swazi Government consistently squandered SACU receipts, even when it was warned that the amount it received from the fund would be slashed drastically in future years.


Sithole has been trying to divert attention away from his own incompetence at the Finance Ministry that he has headed for ten years by blaming the economic ills on corruption in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.


He targets the small fry and ignores the big fish when in his interview he points the finger at the guiltily corrupt. In his interview with the Times he says that government office cleaners have been claiming money for overtime that they haven’t worked. He also talks about how cleaning products were bought but never used.


What he ignores is the real corruption that is making Swaziland rotten to the core. He doesn’t say a word about the money siphoned out of the Swaziland economy by King Mswati himself who has a personal fortune estimated by Forbes to stand at 200 million US dollars. Nor does he tackle the corruption in high government office – such as the land deals that have allowed Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, to buy land from the nation at half its real value. And Dlamini is not alone in this: his deputy prime minister and six of his Cabinet colleagues have also taken a slice of that particular pie.


In his interview, Sithole actually praises Dlamini and the king for the work they are doing to combat corruption. Is Sithole blind? Or does he think the rest of us are the ones who are too blind to see what’s really going on?


Since the Times did not publish the interview on the Internet (why not, I wonder) I have put it up on this blog. Click here to read it.

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