Timeline: Swaziland economic crisis
August 2011: Returning from
South Africa, King Mswati III
announces he has arranged a
R2.4 billion loan from South Africa.
South African officials are
reportedly upset by what they see
as the king’s premature and
unilateral announcement. He does
say that the loan conditions commit
his government to political dialogue
inclusive of all stakeholders.
August 2011: South Africa is obliged by the loan agreement to pay the first of three loan tranches by the end of the month, but with no memorandum of understanding (MoU), no money is sent.
September 2011: At a ‘national
dialogue’ attended by government-
approved delegates in Manzini,
King Mswati’s older brother and
senior royal counsellor Prince
Mahlaba attacks the loan, saying
accepting it with conditions was
similar to prostituting the country.
King Mswati makes clear his
displeasure that the loan also
requires Swaziland to adhere to
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
recommendations on economic
reform, and he rebukes the IMF.
October 2011: Swazi Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini travels to Qatar to seek a loan without political conditions. Other government officials also search for no-strings-attached loans.
October 2011: Although the loan
wording committing King Mswati
to pursuing political reform is
vague, the Swaziland Democratic
Campaign praises South Africa for
making political reform a condition
for financial assistance.
October 2011: King Mswati returns to Pretoria to press for a loan MoU without any reference to political reform. In light of a police crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations since September, he is not successful.
October 2011: Aghast at the
political conditions attached to the
loan, senior royal advisers tell the
Swazi media that an unnamed
American billionaire will loan
Swaziland billions of rand. Loans
originating from various parts of
the world are also widely reported
in the Swazi press. Nothing comes
of any of them.
November 2011: Finance Minister Majozi Sithole tells parliament that Swaziland cannot pay its civil servants and must move toward accepting the loan and its conditions, committing the government to democratic change.
November 2011: Foreign Minister
Mtiti Fakudze leads a delegation to
meet with their South African
counterparts in Pretoria to finalise
the loan. However, the Swazi
delegation has unilaterally removed
codicils committing King Mswati to
political reform, and the loan
agreement is not signed.
March 2012: Sithole’s budget speech announces receipts of R7.1bn from the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu). The finance minister does not mention a loan.
March 2012: Political commenta-
tor Richard Rooney gives voice to a
thought when he writes: “There are
now doubts whether the R7.1bn
from Sacu is really money from the
customs union or whether South
Africa is using it to launder its own
money to bail out Swaziland.”
April 2012: The IMF withdraws its support from Swaziland’s Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap because of a lack of implementation of the economic reform package and a lack of will by the government to cut spending.
September 2012: An extended
strike by teachers to protest against
a government hiring and salary
freeze, from which security forces
are exempted, is the latest in a
series of strikes that involves all
segments of Swazi society in 2012.
December 2012: The government announces it will not pay grants to the elderly due to ‘funding limitations’. The Swazi government owes its suppliers R2bn.
January 2013: Sithole announces
that a combination of external
revenue, Sacu receipts and
internally generated tax revenue
means that Swaziland no longer
needs to pursue loans from South
Africa or other sources.