Swazi king demands ‘commission’ for SA loan

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is “sad” that King Mswati III is demanding a quarter of the R2.4-billion loan from South Africa as commission, it said on Saturday.

“[CWU] noted that King Mswati III has behaved like a bull in a china shop for too long without being reprimanded by [the] Southern African Development Community,” national spokesperson Matankana Mothapo said in a statement.

“In fact from the start, [the] South African government was not supposed to bail out Swaziland.”

The Saturday Star reported that Mswati had demanded that R400-million be paid to him for getting the South African government to lend his cash-strapped country money.

Swaziland Solidarity Network spokesperson Lucky Lukhele said he had been informed that Mswati “arrogantly and stupidly” made the request.

“This is like the Mafia. He loves money and it is destroying our country,” he said.

Earlier this month, South Africa agreed to lend Swaziland R2.4-billion, with conditions.

These included that the country implement fiscal and technical reforms required by the International Monetary Fund.

Mswati has often been accused of fiscal mismanagement and autocratic rule. He has also been criticised for his lavish lifestyle while his subjects live in abject poverty, exacerbated by high levels of HIV/Aids.

Mswati said at the time that the loan showed that South Africa were “good neighbours”.

“We hope that the financial assistance we have received will assist in alleviating the country from the fiscal problems,” he said, according to the independent Times of Swaziland daily newspaper.

The king sought to deflect accusations of financial mismanagement, saying Swaziland was “not the only country faced with fiscal crisis, but the world over”.

“But it must be stressed that this is not a gift but a loan, which naturally should be repaid. This is why every Swazi must play his or her role by working hard wherever he is to ensure that the country gets back to its feet the soonest,” he said, according to the royal-owned Observer newspaper. – Sapa, AFP

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