Friday, February 25, 2011


The Swaziland Government wants us to believe there has been a ‘significant’ drop in poverty in the kingdom – but we are not fooled.

The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development released a report yesterday (24 February 2011) showing that the poverty level in Swaziland was 63 percent of the total population – down from 69 percent ten years ago, when the last survey was taken.

This drop, according to a report from the Ministry, was ‘modest but still significant’. Modest, yes: significant, no.

Look at the figures. The actual number of poor people in Swaziland fell from 678,500 to 641,000 within the past decade. That’s a drop of 37,500 over ten years. That averages out at 3,700 per year.

There are still 641,000 people in poverty in Swaziland and at the rate of 3,700 per year it will take 173 years before all the people are out of poverty.

The report called Poverty in a Decade of Slow Economic Growth: Swaziland in the 2000s claimed that Swazi people had benefited from the average two per cent economic growth experienced over the last 10 years.

Some people may have benefited, but it certainly wasn’t the poor. Missing from the report was any indication of how much money the top 10 percent richest people in Swaziland had.

‘Poverty’ in the report was defined as households with an income of less than E461 per (US$65) month, per adult. Or US$2 per day.

But three in ten people live in the most abject poverty in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The king takes about E300,000 from the national budget each and every day of the year for himself and his Royal Family.

The report stated, ‘Overall nearly three in 10 persons fall short of meeting their daily nutritional needs and the situation remains the same as the beginning of the decade.’

This is not the first time the Swaziland Government has tried to falsely claim that it is making headway in reducing poverty. In October 2010, the Swazi Government doctored an official report to the United Nations on how much progress Swaziland had made on reaching a Millennium Development Goal. The government changed it from reading ‘not likely’ to meet the target of ‘eradication of extreme poverty and hunger’ and made it read that it could ‘potentially’ meet the target.

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