15 September 2011

Swaziland: Mswati Stalls On Signing

Photo: Swazi Media Commentary
Teachers and other workers protesting.

King Mswati III's government has yet to sign the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will activate the first tranche of the R2,4-billion loan by South Africa.

The first tranche was scheduled to be released in late August but has not yet been paid.

The unsigned MOU sets out the fiscal, governance and democratic reforms Pretoria requires in exchange for the loan (Vol 29 No 21).

Mbabane has yet to start implementing the reforms entailed by the conditions. There are clear signs that, despite initial jubilation in Swazi governing circles in early August over the king's apparent coup in securing the loan from South Africa, the Mswati administration is finding the political reforms too much to swallow.

So far all it has managed is a less belligerent stance to opposition protests and some clumsy behind-the-scenes attempts to state-manage "civil society" dialogues towards accepting the current, semi-feudal tinkhundla electoral system.

There are also indications that it is gently urging the formation of new political parties with platforms that avoid any direct challenge to the status quo of the sort represented by the established - and banned - opposition movement led by Pudemo.

Mbabane has also delayed moving on Pretoria's insistence on fiscal reform.

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