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Monday, 15 November 2010


News that public servants in Swaziland will be able to retire aged 45 will raise a few eyebrows across the world.

There were mass demonstrations in Europe (especially in France) against their government plans to raise the retirement age from 60 years to 62. In the UK retirement ages will go up from 65 to 66.

All this is an attempt to cut government expenditure.

But in Swaziland, the government expects to save money by doing the exact opposite.

So, instead of saving real money by cutting the amount it gives to King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, to spend on his 13 palaces (at the last count), his fleet of luxury cars, and his lavish lifestyle, it comes up with crackpot ideas to save a few cents here and there.

The retirement plan will offer public servants ‘attractive’ incentives to retire at 45 (rather than 60), according to Mtiti Fakudze, the Swazi Minister of Public Service, ‘Many people want to leave because of many reasons including health-related reasons.’

Sadly, this might be true. Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world and 26 percent of people aged 15-49 years old have the virus, according to the Central Statistics Office.

Life-expectancy is only 43 years, so maybe not many people will get the chance to take advantage of the retirement offer.

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