6 May 2018

Swaziland: Lavish Spending Leads to Food Aid Cut

Photo: Tamela Hultman/allAfrica.com
(file photo).

Countries outside Swaziland are reducing their donations to feed starving children because they say there is enough money in the kingdom but it is not fairly distributed.

The news comes as reports go global that Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit studded with diamonds at a party for his 50th birthday. He also took delivery of his second private jet which with VIP upgrades is reported to have cost US$30 million.

Now, Lucky Ndlovu, the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office Director of Children Services, has revealed that Neighbourhood Care Points (NCP) across Swaziland are short of food because donations are drying up.

The Sunday Observer in Swaziland reported (6 May 2018) Ndlovu said the NCPs had no budget from government.

The newspaper reported Ndlovu saying, ‘There is a lack of support from those who used to supply the food. Most of the support was from international donors who are now focussing on other countries which are not classified as middle income countries.

‘The break in the supply resulted from the fact there is a lack of appetite from the international community as they say we have enough income but it is unfairly distributed to cushion the poor.

‘Government must come up with programmes that are pro-poor because the international community is now not willing to support us.’

Ndlovu did not specifically mention the lavish spending of King Mswati who has 13 palaces, two private jets and fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars. Members of his family regularly take international shopping trips costing millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of the 1.1 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day.

Children in Swaziland have been told by teachers to prepare themselves for starvation as the government failed to deliver free food to schools over the past year. At the heart of the crisis is the Swazi Government’s inability to pay its suppliers. In the March 2018 Budget, Finance Minister Martin Dlamini said the government owed E3.1 billion and was trying to find a way to pay its bills.

As a result of unpaid bills, suppliers have stopped delivering food, and medicines. Electricity supplies to government offices, law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, and border posts have been cut.

In 2017, the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world in a report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive growth in Africa that detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the bottom.

The Oxfam report stated the government, which is handpicked by King Mswati, ‘failed to put measures in place to tackle inequality, with poor scores for social spending and progressive taxation, and a poor record on labour rights’.

The extent of poverty in Swaziland has been reported extensively outside of the kingdom. In its annual report on human rights in the kingdom, published in March 2017, Amnesty International said two thirds of the people in Swaziland continued to live below the poverty line and that around half the population said they often went without food and water, and over a third said that medical care was inadequate.

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s population were in need of food assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in thought to be OVCs.

It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five.

As a result of unpaid bills, suppliers have stopped delivering food, and medicines. Electricity supplies to government offices, law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, and border posts have been cut.

In 2017, the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world in a report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive growth in Africa that detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the bottom.

The Oxfam report stated the government, which is handpicked by King Mswati, 'failed to put measures in place to tackle inequality, with poor scores for social spending and progressive taxation, and a poor record on labour rights'.

The extent of poverty in Swaziland has been reported extensively outside of the kingdom. In its annual report on human rights in the kingdom, published in March 2017, Amnesty International said two thirds of the people in Swaziland continued to live below the poverty line and that around half the population said they often went without food and water, and over a third said that medical care was inadequate.

In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland's population were in need of food assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in thought to be OVCs.

It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five.

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