There is tension in Swaziland today (21 December 2011) amid fears of unrest as civil servants discovered they have not been paid this month.
Salaries should have been deposited in accounts yesterday, but although pay slips were sent out no funds were transferred to banks.
The Swazi Government is all but broke and had trouble paying salaries last month. Swaziland Finance Minister Majozi Sithole said then that he had secured enough money to pay salaries for four months.
There are now serious doubts that he was telling the truth.
Among those left unpaid are members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), one of the main critics of the government.
The SNAT Facebook site has been awash with posts from teachers complaining against the government and calling for a mass protest to be held at the Ministry of Finance today, if salaries are not paid immediately.
Yesterday, disjointed reports came out of Swaziland saying that only members of the army, police and prison staff had been paid. It is unclear if this is true: some reports say as with the teachers they received pay slips, but no money.
There were also reports yesterday that road blocks have been set up throughout Swaziland leading to speculation that police were trying to disrupt any potential protests from unpaid civil servants.
Today, both Swaziland’s daily newspapers report the Swaziland Government claims that the money is available to pay salaries and that the delay in payment was caused by administrative error.
Media also report that Percy Simelane, the official government spokesperson, and Finance Minister Sithole were unavailable for comment most of yesterday and let their phones ring unanswered.
SECRECY SURROUNDS NEW SWAZI LOAN