Prince Hlangusemphi, Swaziland’s Minister of Economic Planning and Development, was wide of the mark when he told the World Food Programme (WFP) that eradicating hunger in the kingdom was a ‘tangible goal’ that the government was committed to achieving.
He was responding to a report that said Swaziland lost US$92 million per year in the economy because people were too hungry to work properly.
But, the real evidence is that it is the Swaziland Government, hand-picked by absolute monarch King Mswati III, which is the major cause of the hunger.
In 2012, three separate reports from the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies all concluded the Swazi government was largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing number of Swazis who had to skip meals.
The reports placed the blame at the financial mismanagement of the Swazi government.
The reports listed low growth levels, government wastefulness and corruption, and lack of democracy and accountability as some of the main reasons for the economic downturn that has led to an increasing number of starving Swazis.
The Swazi Government was also accused earlier this year of deliberately withholding food donated from overseas as aid from hungry people as a policy to induce them to become disaffected with their members of parliament and blame them for the situation. Newspapers in Swaziland and abroad reported the government wanted to punish the kingdom’s MPs for passing a vote of no confidence against it.
Earlier this year it was revealed that the Swaziland Government had sold maize donated as food aid by Japan for hungry children in the kingdom on the open market and deposited the US$3 million takings in a special bank account.
The latest report called the Cost of Hunger in Africa was prepared by the government of Swaziland working together with WFP. It found that around 270,000 adults in Swaziland, or more than 40 percent of its workers, suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition. As a result, they were more likely to get sick, do poorly in school, be less productive at work and have shorter lives.
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