Now the Swazi Government can’t pay the rent.
After news that workers on a multi-million dollar project had to be laid off because government couldn’t pay its bills, comes news that it has not paid the rent.
The Swaziland economy is in freefall and it is becoming clearer by the day how this will affect ordinary people in the kingdom.
Government has not paid for civil servants who rent flats and (understandably) property owners are angry.
Evart Madlopha, Ministry of Public Service Principal Secretary, confirmed that his ministry had a problem paying all rentals in time.
Madlopha said this was happening for the first time and blamed it on the cash flow problem government is experiencing these days. According to the Times of Swaziland, the only independent newspaper in the kingdom, ‘he is praying [it] will normalise soon’.
‘We only owe rentals for the month of December, which we were supposed to pay in November,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Swazi Government has approved freezing overtime payments to public servants, freezing vacant posts and suspending all appointments into the service. The government also wants to make at least 7,000 public servants redundant.
The suspension of overtime payments affects all ministries with the exception of the Ministry of Health, Macanjana Motsa, Government Press Secretary, confirmed yesterday (7 December 2010).
Further evidence of the dire economic situation came this week when Central Bank of Swaziland reported the continuous drawing from the kingdom’s gross official reserves to finance its expenditures has once again resulted in a fall in reserves. According to a report in the Times, reserves now stand at E4.8 million – estimated to be enough to cover the cost of imports into Swaziland for 3.1 months.
This situation is dire when you remember that the recommended minimum reserves for a nation are the equivalent to pay for six months worth of imports.
(Note to editor: please set this paragraph in irony typeface). But there is some good news. Majozi Sithole, Swaziland’s Finance Minister, has said politicians will be paid early this month (December 2010) so they have money in time to pay for their Christmas celebrations. Civil servants are also expected to benefit from this largess.