5 August 2011
SA complicit in Swazi abuses
By Khaye Nkwanyana
The decision by the South African government to grant the Kingdom of Swaziland a loan of R2.4-billion without stringent conditions deserves criticism.
In fact, it is a lost opportunity by South Africa to act as saviours and rescue Swazis from the only remaining absolute monarch in Africa.
One of the causes of the economic collapse in Swaziland is the political suppression that the monarch inherited from his father, and continues, through the Tinkundla decree of 1973.
The volatility of the political terrain in Swaziland - as displayed through mass demonstrations led by banned political parties and trade unions; massive detentions of freedom fighters and state- sponsored assassinations - requires a country like South Africa to facilitate political change.
If we let things unfold for themselves, as in Zimbabwe, we will bear the brunt of a Swazi influx into South Africa at huge cost.
Our minister of finance cites as factors of the fiscal crisis in Swaziland the decline by 60% of revenue from the Southern African Custom Union, the delay in adjusting spending to the new environment, and the lack of fiscal and broader public-sector reforms.
But these factors point to the absence of effective political leadership and governance. It is this that our government shies away from for fear of political meddling.
If there is any advice to give now it would be to review the terms under which the loan has been granted. The conditions are too vague and will effect no structural change in that country, thereby surrendering, as we have always done, the people of Swaziland to the brutal hands of a dictator who finances his lifestyle through the national fiscus.
The conditions should include:
A road map towards the unbanning of political parties;
A timeframe for democratic elections, starting with the drafting of a constitution for a new democratic state;
A technical team to study the institutional governance required for service delivery and management of the country;
Redefinition of the role of the king as a ceremonial leader outside of government; and
Details of the terms of repayment of the loan.
Without these conditions we are complicit in Mswati's sordid actions against his people.