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Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Here is the Swaziland national budget for the years 2012 – 2015. Some of this information has been covered by the media in Swaziland, but as in previous years it is the information they choose not to tell us – or are too afraid to tell us - that is most interesting.

I have already written about King Mswati’s take from the budget, but also revealed in this document is the fact that the budget for the King’s Office (head 52) will rise from E70,692 in the financial year just ending to more than E5 million in the coming year. No information on the need for this increase is given, except that it is all for ‘CTA vehicle charges’.

Also noticeable is the rise in ‘head 60’Central Transfers – the amount set aside for ‘contingencies’, that is payments that do not fall under any other budget heading. The sum put aside here rises from E476 million in the year just ended to E1.68 billion in 2012/13.

The amount set aside for defence (i.e. internal security) spending rises to E610.79 million from E522.57 million (head 08). Spending on police rises from E546.2 million to E635 million (head 05).A further E7 million has been set aside for state security equipment and a further E1.25 million for training the Royal Guards in the coming year.

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Swaziland Budget 2012


Swaziland MPs are threatening to take the Minister of Finance to court because he cut their salaries by 10 percent in a bid to control public spending.

They say they were the only group to have the cut and it was done without their permission.

The Swazi Government had hoped to cut all public service salaries by 10 percent to save E240 million from the annual budget, but it failed to do this. Public service unions threatened civil unrest if the cuts went ahead. Only an estimated E6 million per year – mostly from salaries of parliamentarians – has been saved so far by wage cuts.

Earlier this week news leaked out that King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, had not taken a cut in income himself, even though he had been urging his subjects to make sacrifices.

Yesterday (28 February 2012), during a portfolio committee budget performance debate, MPs demanded that Majozi Sithole, the Finance Minister, reinstate their pay and give them back money that had been deducted in recent months. They said the policy of salary cuts had failed and they did not see why they should be the only ones to suffer.

MPs claim that Sithole had no legal right to cut their salaries and if he did not reinstate the money they would challenge him in court.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Musa Ndlangamandla, the sacked editor in chief of the Swazi Observer newspaper, has fled to South Africa after police and security officers raided his former office and took away his computer and documents.

Ndlangamandla, a former praise singer to King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, says he fears he will be arrested on a charge of terrorism.

Ndlangamandla was sacked in January 2012 from the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati. He had been involved in a power struggle with Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, which he lost.

For more than a decade Ndlangamandla had been a trusted aide to King Mswati, travelling all over the world at the King’s side, writing his speeches and praising him to the hilt in the Observer newspapers. Ndlangamandla made it clear in his newspapers that they would never publish anything critical of the King.

Since his sacking, Ndlangamandla has tried to reinvent himself as a champion of democracy, claiming that he was a force in the struggle for freedom in the kingdom where all political parties are banned and the King himself handpicks the government.

Now, Ndlangamandla, in an interview with the AFP news agency, says he has fled from Swaziland to South Africa. ‘I am now on the police wanted list on trumped up charges under the Suppression of Terrorism Act,’ AFP reported him saying.

‘Yes, I am scared, looking at the history of people who die in police custody,’ he said.

‘However if it means I should die for trying to help fellow Swazis realise a better future and self-determination, so be it,’ he added.

Ndlangamandla said police visited the Swazi Observer office and confiscated his computer and documents.

A Swazi police spokesperson confirmed the raid had taken place and that Ndlangamandla was under investigation, but declined to say why.

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Monday, 27 February 2012


King Mswati III of Swaziland has once again refused to make any sacrifice to help get his Kingdom out of the economic mire.

Even though members of the government he handpicks have been forced to take 10 percent salary cuts and he wants all public servants, including teachers and hospital workers, to take a similar reduction, he is not prepared to take any cut himself.

Instead, we can reveal that unreported details from the kingdom’s national budget show King Mswati and his royal family will continue to receive E210 million a year from the Swazi taxpayer for their own use. This is the same amount they got in the financial year 2011/12 just ending, but is an increase of 23 percent over 2010/11 and a whopping 63 percent compared with what he took from his subjects in 2009/10.

Earlier this month (February 2012), the King’s Finance Minister Majozi Sithole in his budget speech praised politicians and royal committees ‘who have shown leadership’ by accepting a 10 percent cut in their salaries, saving government around E6 million in 2011/12. What he didn’t say was that King Mswati himself showed no leadership by taking a cut himself.

Sithole also praised ‘their Majesties for the solid support, keen interest, and dedication to the welfare of the nation they have displayed over the past year’. But, it is difficult to see this dedication in practice.

Sithole made no reference to the amount the King would receive from his subjects this year. And, even though the detail of the King’s budget has been available to the media in Swaziland for two weeks none have reported it (nor are they likely to).

While King Mswati refuses to cut his slice of the pie, Sithole gave candid statistics about the plight of King Mswati’s subjects.

‘Over 60 percent of the population lives in poverty. Nearly 66 percent don’t have a bank account. A quarter of all adults is estimated to have HIV and average life expectancy at birth is the lowest in the world. Over half of all youth are unemployed and a quarter of children who start primary school drop out before the end of Grade Seven,’ he said.

Later Sithole, revealed that Swaziland was so broke and poverty and hunger so widespread that he would have to seek a E264 million (US$37.8 million) loan for a food security project to grow more maize. In a typical year as many as one third of the Swazi population rely on international food aid to avoid malnutrition.

King Mswati’s selfishness will come as no surprise to observers. He has never done a salaried day’s work in his life, yet, according to Forbes, he has a personal fortune estimated at US$200 million. He also personally controls a trust fund set up by his father King Sobhuza II that is estimated to be worth US$10 billion.

He also ‘holds in trust for the nation’ the profits of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, an investment fund with extensive shares in a number of businesses, industries, property developments and tourism facilities in Swaziland. This money is supposed to be used for the benefit of the people but the vast majority is actually used for the King’s own personal use.

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Swaziland police stopped a political rally of the African United Democratic Party (AUDP) from taking place at the weekend.

About 80 officers massed to prevent about 12 AUDP supporters from meeting at Mhlaleni on Saturday (25 February 2012).

A standoff between police and AUDP supporters took place in the morning, but as soon as the AUDP started singing the South African national anthem and struggle song, ‘Nkosi Sikelela’i Africa’, police moved in to break up the rally and took away the protestors.

Police forced the rally to disperse and confiscated a banner belonging to the political party. All political parties are banned in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Marches and rallies are banned without the permission of King Mswati’s authorities.

The rally had been arranged to call for the registration of political parties ahead of the Swazi national elections in 2013.

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported that Sibusiso Dlamini, the AUDP Secretary General, confronted the police saying they were acting unconstitutionally and that the protestors had the right to freedom of assembly.