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Swazi Budget Cuts Start to Bite

category southern africa | economy | non-anarchist press author Thursday January 14, 2010 16:41author by Richard Rooney - Swazi Media Commentary Report this post to the editors

The Swazi Government has ordered 14 percent cuts in all department budgets in order to stop Swaziland going into bankruptcy.

A total of E1.5 billion must be cut straight away, says Swaziland’s Finance Minister Majozi Sithole.

Already departments such as Education have said they can’t implement the cut and still provide schooling for orphans and vulnerable children, among others.

I notice that the 14 percent cut doesn’t apply to the parliament itself. The massive salary and expenses increases announced before Christmas will still go ahead.

The cuts are severe, but the Swazi media (at least) have failed to notice that Sithole’s E1.5 billion is nowhere near the E4.1 billion shortfall Swaziland faces from this year’s receipts from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

Does Sithole have a plan to find the missing E2.6 billion? If his past performances are anything to go by I doubt it very much.

There has been some talk in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch that Swaziland might be able to borrow its way out of the crisis. But who would lend to such a corrupt regime as Mswati’s?

No, I fear more cuts will be forced onto the Swazi people (while the parliamentarians keep their own nest very well feathered, thank you).

Things will get very bad indeed before too long. I am reminded of the warning from Mbongeni Mbingo, the editor of the Times of Swaziland, that there may well be blood on the streets before this is over.

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