7 March 2018

Swaziland: Unpaid Bills So Govt Lights Cut Off

Law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, border posts among others in Swaziland were disconnected of electricity because the government has not paid its bills.

It is estimated that it owes the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) about E15m (US$1.2m). In total the Swazi Government owes its suppliers more than E3bn.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, reported on Monday (5 March 2018), 'Information gathered is that the places which were affected by the disconnection included the High Court, most magistrates courts, Swaziland National Libraries, Royal Swaziland Police (RSP), Ministry of Natural Resources, Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS), two border posts and the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) among others. On Wednesday, power was disconnected in most of the mentioned places, however, by Thursday afternoon, it had been restored.'

The government has still not paid its bills but is negotiating payment terms, the newspaper reported.

Finance Minister Martin Dlamini in his budget speech on Thursday (1 March 2018), said, 'Government arrears as on February 1st, 2018 stood at E3.1bn.' He added 'Government, however, acknowledges the accumulation of arrears to suppliers and has prioritised the management of these.'

Services across Swaziland have been grinding to a halt because suppliers have not been paid. School have run short of food for children who rely on it to avoid malnutrition; health centres and hospitals have run out of medicines and vaccines.

Meanwhile, the budget includes provisions for a E1.5bn convention centre and hotel and E5.5m for a retirement house for the Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini.


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