The Swazi Government ignores the law when spending nearly E10billion (US$840million) of public money buying goods and services, according to the Swaziland Public Procurement Regulatory Agency (SPPRA).
SPPRA Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Musa Sikhondze said government did not stick to rules laid down in the Public Procurement Act of 2011 when it came to tendering.
He told a meeting of media that government spent about on average E10 billion on procurement each year. The Times of Swaziland reported on Monday (29 January 2018), ‘He stated that they remained challenged to develop systems that would ensure that there is value for money as government undertakes procurement procedures but were challenged by the a number of issues that include budgetary constraints and being understaffed.’
SPPRA Director Policy, Legislation and Investigations Buhle Dlamini said out of 92 entities, especially in central government, only three adhered to the procurement act. The newspaper quoted him saying, ‘At present, we do not know how many tenders are being issued by government.’
The Times estimated 97 per cent of government institutions did not stick to the law.
Meanwhile, the United States has once again criticised Swaziland for the secrecy there is around the national budget. The State Department’s annual Fiscal Transparency Report for 2017 says there has been ‘no significant improvement’. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The report said revenues from natural resources and land leases were not included in the budget. It added, ‘Expenditures to support the royal family were included in the budget but lacked specific detail and were not subject to the same oversight as the rest of the budget.’
It criticised the role of King Mswati in awarding mining licences. It said, ‘The criteria and procedures for awarding natural resource extraction licenses and contracts were outlined in law, but the opacity of the procedures, which involve submitting applications for licenses directly to the king, cast doubt on whether the government actually followed the law in practice.
‘Basic information on natural resource extraction awards was not always publicly available.’
King Mswati takes 25 percent of all mining royalties in his kingdom. He is said to hold this money ‘in trust for the nation’ but in fact uses it to fund his own lavish lifestyle. He has at least 13 palaces in the tiny kingdom with a population of about 1.3 million people. He has a fleet of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce. He has a private airplane and is expected to take delivery of another during 2018.
Seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.
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