Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Trade unions in Swaziland are ready for a series of rolling strikes to force the government of the cash-strapped kingdom to stop paying cash bonuses worth millions of dollars to the Prime Minister, ministers, senators, MPs and senior civil servants.

Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, will personally get E1.6 million; his deputy, Themba Masuku, who already claims to be a millionaire, is expected to receive E1.4 million. Each cabinet minister will receive E1.2 million, while Senate President, Gelane Zwane and Speaker, Prince Guduza stand to pocket E1.1 million each. The four regional administrators will also take home E1.1 million each. The deputy senate president and speaker will each get E495 000. Each of Swaziland’s MPs will get E435 000.

The total sum of the payoffs is in the region of E60 million (US$7.55 million). They will get the money next year (2013) when the present parliament comes to an end.

These payouts are contained in an order known as Financial Circular No 1 2010. Also contained in the circular are a raft of perks that the parliamentarians are already receiving each month, including housing, entertainment and travel allowances.

In Swaziland seven in ten people live in abject poverty earning less than US$2 a day. The kingdom has run out of cash and has struggled in recent months to pay salaries of public servants. It has left many of its regular bills unpaid and has failed to get the support of the International Monetary Fund to get loans from the international financial community.

All the major trade unions in Swaziland, including the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL), have told the Prime Minister they want Circular No 1 scrapped.

In a letter to the PM they say they will embark on a series of protest actions to force the government’s hand.

The trade unions also want democratic changes in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, including the unbanning of political parties and the release of political prisoners. They also want proposed cuts in public service jobs to be halted.

Anger is growing in Swaziland against the government, handpicked by King Mswati. In 2011 there were a series of strikes and protests, which were put down by police and troops loyal to King Mswati.

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