Friday, August 5, 2011


Times, South Africa

4 August 2011



SA has little to gain from bailing out Swazi autocrat

After denying it was talking to King Mswati III's government in June, the central bank has now stepped in after other countries and international organisations refused to bail out Swaziland.

In an interview with the Times of Swaziland yesterday (3 August 2011), Mswati said he was grateful to President Jacob Zuma, his government and the entire South African nation for their assistance.

According to the absolute monarch - who has repeatedly resisted calls for reforms - it shows just what a good neighbour South Africa is.

It is indeed an act of great neighbourliness that the government has agreed to help out the only remaining absolute dictator on the continent, whose excessive lifestyle has been widely criticised.

This is also a neighbour that has violently repressed its citizens when they have agitated for a more inclusive, democratic system of governance.

This neighbour had to seek foreign loans in order to pay its civil servants' salaries while the state lost more than $10-million a month to corruption.

After the announcement of the loan - made in the Swazi media - the South African government explained that there were conditions attached, chief among them being the need for talks about reform.

This, of course, will help the government silence some of the vociferous criticism that it is helping to maintain Swaziland's autocratic regime.

But there remains concern about whether Mswati will direct the money where it is needed, and what Swaziland itself will be doing to stimulate economic recovery and growth.

South Africa, with its vast inequalities, can hardly afford the luxury of acting as benevolent banker. And, certainly, it would be difficult to justify sending a further loan across the border.

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