Friday, July 15, 2011


Mail and Guardian, South Africa

15 July 2011


Swazis to get R400m bailout

The South African Customs Union (Sacu) will give Swaziland a R400-million (US$58 million) bailout in its next quarterly revenue payments to help the cash-strapped kingdom pay public salaries and prevent threatened national strikes, the Mail & Guardian has learned.

"From what I understand, there is a plan to allocate R400-million through Sacu," a Swaziland source said, citing information from the presidency.

Another person close to the loan process told the M&G: "This is a concession to help keep Swaziland above water and to stop the country from collapsing altogether. It buys South Africa time to work on a more comprehensive loan package. It is important for Pretoria to get this right. There is a lot at stake for President Jacob Zuma in terms of keeping Cosatu and the South African Communist Party on side ahead of next year's leadership contest."

The South African treasury remains tight-lipped about any loan package it may provide for Swaziland. In an email a spokesperson repeated the department's statement of June 28 that "technical discussions between South Africa and Swaziland on possible assistance are ongoing".

It is understood that following meetings last week with members of Swaziland's civil society organisations, plans are being drawn up for a ministerial taskforce comprising the department of international relations and co-operation, the department of trade and industry and the treasury. This team will work towards opening negotiations with Swaziland about providing financial assistance in return for political reform.

According to a senior Cosatu official, the unbanning of political parties and inclusive dialogue with members of civil society are likely to feature among the conditions of the loan (expected to be more than R1-billion), with a commitment by Swaziland to exercise more ­prudent fiscal management.

To read the full report from the Mail and Guardian, click here.

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