Swaziland Govt Accused of 'Looting' Billions From Its Workers' Pension Fund

The Government of Swaziland / eSwatini has been accused of 'looting' the Public Servants Pension Fund of E2 billion.

It has taken money without the knowledge of pensioners, it was claimed.

Former Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) President and current member of the Swaziland Public Pensioners Association Sibongile Mazibuko told a meeting of public sector workers E2 billion (US$150 million) had been taken from the fund by the government.

The PSPF was established in 1993 for the management and administration of pensions for government (public sector) employees. According to the PSPF annual report for 2017 it had assets of E20.5 billion but liabilities of E27 billion. It has 40,496 active members and 26,035 retired pensioners.

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (29 January 2019), 'She was highlighting that the workers could find themselves having nothing to live on during their retiring days because seemingly, government was looting funds from PSPF. She based what she was speaking about on a PSPF 2017 annual report.'

It added, 'Mazibuko said what government was doing was tantamount to looting because it borrowed the money without the knowledge of pensioners.'

The Observer reported, 'Civil servants make a certain contribution to PSPF so that they can live on monthly annuities when they retire. However, it became clear to some of them that they could find themselves having nothing to live on after they retire.'

In April 2018 pensioners marched to protest against the government taking full control of the PSPF. They were led by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) with the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and representatives of other trade unions. They delivered petitions to government ministries in Mbabane, and to parliament at Lobamba.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported at the time the pensioners said the PSPF was 'now at risk of being depleted by government'. It added they said 'government will find it easy to loot the pensioners' money'.

Pensioners feared money in the PSPF would be misused by government. The march came as King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, took delivery of an A340 Airbus, his second private jet. It was paid for out of public funds and may have cost as much as US$30 million. The King also has 13 palaces and fleets of top-of-the range BMW and Mercedes cars.

Meanwhile, seven in ten of the estimated 1.2 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day.

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