Reports of R1.2bn loan to Swaziland 'not true'

The finance ministry said on Tuesday that a report claiming that a R1.2-billion loan had been granted by the South African government to Swaziland was incorrect.

“While the South African government is in receipt of a loan request from Swaziland, as confirmed last week, no loan has been agreed to or granted to Swaziland,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

The African Development Bank has already refused Swaziland a bailout loan because the country has not met conditions set by the International Monetary Fund, a report said on June 24.

The IMF has said Swaziland must put in place austerity measures, cutting thousands of government jobs and reducing salaries, before loans may be approved.

On Monday, Swaziland opposition forces claimed in a report that the government had agreed on the loan to bail out its cash-strapped government.

Lucky Lukhele, spokesperson for Swaziland Solidarity Network based in Johannesburg, said he had heard from “highly placed sources” in the South African government that it had decided to lend Swaziland the money.

The finance ministry confirmed that technical discussions between South Africa and Swaziland on possible assistance were taking place, and said it would release a statement once a decision had been made.

“[The discussions] take place in the context of the global recession, which resulted in Swaziland losing nearly 60% of its revenue from the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu),” it added.

The Congress of South African Trade Union’s (Cosatu) international secretary Bongani Masuku on Monday also said that the loan had been granted.

Nzimande says no
Meanwhile, South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday that South Africa must not “bail out” the government of Swaziland.

He was addressing the fifth central committee meeting of Cosatu in Midrand, near Johannesburg.

He said support could be given to the Swaziland government only if it allowed for free and democratic expressions by the people of that country.

“The SACP demands the unbanning of all political parties in Swaziland and the creation of conditions for free and full political participation by all in building a democratic Swaziland.”

Turning to popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, Nzimande added that the SACP condemned “the state-inspired violence directed against protesters and civilians in general in these areas”.

But he noted that the uprisings marked “a decisive resurgence of popular agency in the Arab world, breaking the bonds of fear and repression, and asserting a profound democratic yearning for popular sovereignty”.—I-Net Bridge

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