Swaziland says loan from SA 'not working out'

UPROAR:  About 100 Swaziland democracy activists protested outside Parliament yesterday against the R2,4billion 'bailout' loan granted by the South African government to the Swazi government last month. PHOTO: ANNA MAJAVU
UPROAR: About 100 Swaziland democracy activists protested outside Parliament yesterday against the R2,4billion 'bailout' loan granted by the South African government to the Swazi government last month. PHOTO: ANNA MAJAVU

A 2,4 billion rand ($280 million) loan that South Africa agreed to extend to Swaziland has hit a snag but the kingdom can survive without it, its finance minister says

The loan was agreed in 2011 as Swaziland grappled with an acute funding crisis. South Africa was due to release the first tranche of the bailout last year but the money never materialised.

“It would seem that it’s not working out,” Finance Minister Majozi Sithole told Reuters in Johannesburg, citing additional conditions set by South Africa.

“If we can’t get it because of any complications, it’s not a train smash for Swaziland. We will live without it.”

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told parliament in August that Pretoria would release the first 800 million rand subject to its tiny neighbour meeting certain fiscal and technical conditions.

The deal had initially hit problems when Swaziland objected to Pretoria’s demands for political and economic reforms in the southern African kingdom, criticised internationally over its ban on political parties.

The budget crunch, triggered by a sharp decline in receipts from a regional customs union, caused unprecedented protests against Swazi ruler King Mswati III, who has at least a dozen wives and a personal fortune estimated at $200 million.

Meanwhile, the majority of his 1,2 million subjects wallow in poverty.

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