13 November 2012

Swaziland: King Did Not Save Kingdom's Economy

editorial

Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has falsely stated that King Mswati III was personally responsible for saving the kingdom's economy by getting E7 billion (US$780 million) from a customs union.

Dlamini told a gathering of Christians held at one of the king's palaces that King Mswati had personally taken action and helped the government when Swaziland was in financial crisis.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported Dlamini saying that the king got the money from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

The newspaper reported him saying, 'It all started when the SACU rebates received by the country were drastically reduced after the country started experiencing cash flow problems. The King personally came through for government and went out to save the country from the crisis. Indeed His Majesty came back with seven billion from SACU, something which we appreciate as government, because the situation was able to stabilise.'

But, Dlamini was not speaking the truth. The amount of money Swaziland received from SACU was based on a financial formula that applied to all member countries of the customs union and was based on the amount of trade that had taken place in the region. Swaziland would have received its E7 billion without an intervention from the king. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already warned Swaziland to expect drastically less than E7 billion from SACU next year because of changes in the level of trade in the region.

Dlamini made his comments at Lozitha Palace, where King Mswati himself addressed the crowd.

Dlamini has much to thank the king for. King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, personally picked Dlamini as Prime Minister in contravention of the kingdom's constitution. Last month (October 2012), the PM lost a vote of confidence in the Swazi House of Assembly and according to the constitution King Mswati was obliged to sack him, but did not. The king then used his power to ensure that the vote of confidence was reversed so Dlamini could remain in office.

Meanwhile, despite Dlamini's claim that the king saved Swaziland from its economic crisis, the IMF last week announced that the kingdom needed to make immediate expenditure cuts, including in public sector wage bills, if it was to meet budget targets set by the government for the current financial year.

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