Confusion is the order of the day as at last reality dawns on the Swazi Government that the chickens are coming home to roost.
Despite continual denials from Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, that the kingdom can survive its present financial crisis, the kingdom has run out of cash.
The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, estimates today (15 November 2011) that E200 million is needed within 21 days to pay salaries of public servants this month.
Despite denials on Friday that the government had been forced to delay November salary payments into December, yesterday it came clean and admitted the money wasn’t there.
Meanwhile, also today, the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, says the kingdom needs E346 million within 48 hours to meet all its immediate monthly obligations.
The Times quotes Majozi Sithole saying every month government has standing obligations of E526 million; E350 million of this goes towards the payment of salaries for civil servants, and E120 million goes to parastatals while the remaining E46 million goes to the kingdom’s embassies.
Sithole told the Times that as of Friday, government’s salary account only had E180 million.
The Swazi Observer reported today that for the past few months the government had taken money from the Central Bank of Swaziland reserves to pay public service salaries. It reported, ‘Further “loot” on the reserves would have resulted in South Africa de-linking Lilangeni from their currency- the Rand.’
The Swazi Government is now desperate to raise money. On Saturday (12 November 2011), a special meeting of Cabinet decided to approach parastatals and banks to try to raise the money.
It reported that Sithole asked each minister to contact every parastatal under their ministries to make a contribution. He wants to raise E200 million this way, so November salaries can be paid on 5 December.
Meanwhile, Sithole told parliament yesterday that Swaziland was ready to accept the terms of a E2.4 billion loan offer made by South Africa. Previously King Mswati had blocked the loan because one of its conditions was that Swaziland moved towards becoming a democratic state.
Swaziland is now gearing itself up for civil unrest. The powerful trade union, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) has given the government until tomorrow (Wednesday) to withdraw its memo delaying November salary payments. Failure to do so would result in a mass meeting of SNAT members ‘where big decisions on what to do next would be taken’, it has been reported.
An editorial in today’s Times identifies a ‘special plan for the army’ so it is prepared for when government defaults on the salaries ‘and civil servants go on a rampage in the streets’.
It also predicts that by the end of this week Swaziland will be on the brink of becoming a failed state.
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