The Swaziland Government is close to accepting that the kingdom must move towards democracy to get a bailout loan from South Africa.
Majozi Sithole, Swaziland’s Finance Minister, as good as admitted this in parliament yesterday (14 November 2011).
South Africa had offered Swaziland a R2.4 billion bailout loan, but with conditions attached. One of the conditions was a move towards reform on democracy and human rights.
King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, put the block on that and the deal stalled. If it had gone ahead money from South Africa would have arrived in Swaziland in August 2011.
But now, three months later, Swaziland cannot pay the E350 million public service salaries this month. And all other avenues for bailout funds seem to have closed. So, the Swazi king has no choice but to accept all South Africa's loan conditions.
Sithole told parliament that Mtiti Fakudze, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, would sign the deal with his counterpart in South Africa soon.
If Sithole is telling the truth – and it is a big ‘if’ as he has consistently lied to the Swazi people and the international community about the scale of Swaziland’s financial meltdown – this will be a major humiliating climb-down by King Mswati.
According to the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, today (15 November 2011), Sithole said Swaziland had no choice but to accept the loan conditions.
‘At the moment nothing has been signed but the ministers of both countries are in the process of signing the agreement,’ he said.
A source close to government told the Observer, Fakudze was making means to get the minister in South Africa so that the agreement would be signed as soon as possible.
‘The only problem now is that the minister of foreign affairs in South Africa is currently out of that country,’ the source said.
The source revealed that there were some conditions that government removed before when it had to sign for the loan.
‘When South Africa realised that some conditions had been removed talks were stalled because Swaziland had to sign with the original conditions,’ said the source.
The source said it later dawned on government that since it was the beggar it could not choose.