It seems that senators in Swaziland will have to be dragged kicking and screaming before they accept a 10 percent pay cut to help the kingdom’s failing economy.
The Government had decreed that all politicians would have to take the cut, but it is emerging that senators don’t want to do as they are told. Also, some Cabinet ministers are against the cut – even though the cabinet has reluctantly agreed to it.
The cut on senators’ pay was supposed to be implemented last month (April 2011), but senators refused. Instead, they want any cut to be negotiated with the Joint House Committee chaired by Senator Themba Msibi.
Senate President Chief Gelane Zwane yesterday repeated her stance that no one would or should touch their salaries.
The Swazi Observer today (13 May 2011) reports her saying, ‘The resolution of Senate still stands that our salaries must not be touched, the ministry of Finance knows that.’
However, Khabonina Mabuza, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance insisted to the newspaper that all politicians would be affected by the 10 percent cut.
The Observer reports that the Cabinet was the first to accept the 10 percent cut after a recommendation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that this was one way to help the economy. Members of Parliament followed a month ago.
Despite the unwillingness of the senators to cut their own pay, the Swazi Government, handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, wants public servants to take pay cuts. There is also a possibility that up to 7,000 out of Swaziland’s estimated 35,000 public servants will be retrenched to save money.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that not all Cabinet Ministers were in favour of their own salaries being cut.
According to the Times Sunday (8 May 2011), some ministers, who receive about E79,000 (US$11,400) per month in pay and allowances, ‘were against the idea because they have heavy commitments on their salaries which when their money is reduced they may not cope in keeping up with them.’
The Times Sunday reported, ‘They also stated that instead of having their salaries reduced, government should be thinking about means of increasing their pay.
‘They also claimed that presently they being underpaid compared to peers in the southern African region.’