Swaziland scrapes together local loans for salaries

Cash-strapped Swaziland has pulled together enough loans from local banks and private businesses to pay government workers on time this month, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The announcement came after emergency to raise the $43-million reportedly needed to pay civil servants.

Government workers had threatened to launch new protests in Africa’s last absolute monarchy following an announcement on Friday that pay checks would be delayed by two weeks.

“Civil servants will be paid. We needed the money fast and it has been found from the domestic market,” government spokesperson Percy Simelane told Agence France-Presse.

Simelane said a “host of companies,” including banks, was involved, but declined to name them.

‘Processing salaries’
“We are processing salaries as we speak,” he added.

The government declined to divulge the details of the loans including the interest rate. It was unclear how salaries would be financed for next month.

“We will cross that bridge when we come to it,” Simelane said.

Swaziland’s commercial banks had twice turned the government down for loans earlier this year.

Borrowing domestically is one of Swaziland’s only remaining options given its deepening fiscal crisis.

Sudden loss
The kingdom had been drawing down its foreign reserves to keep the country running but the central bank stopped after the International Monetary Fund warned in August that the Swazi currency peg to South Africa’s rand was at risk.

Swaziland is grappling with a severe financial crisis after a sudden loss in earnings last year from a regional customs union, its main source of income.

The loss was caused by a change in the way customs money is distributed around the region — a change that was long planned but for which Swaziland failed to budget.

Spending has been running at double the level of revenue collection for the past year.

The government wants to slash civil servants’ salaries by 10% which unions have flatly rejected, pointing to the lavish lifestyle of King Mswati III, who has separate palaces for each of his 13 wives. — Sapa-AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders