Inkosi Mswati III of Swaziland. Photograph: Bongiwe Mchunu.
Inkosi Mswati III of Swaziland. Photograph: Bongiwe Mchunu.

NGO opposes SA loan to Swaziland

Time of article published Aug 10, 2011

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Africa Contact, the Danish former anti-apartheid movement, has sent a letter to South African President Jacob Zuma, asking him to reconsider his country's loan to Swaziland.

“In the past, we at Africa Contact spent a lot of time and energy on trying to pressurise European banks into not lending money to apartheid SA - in part because the African National Congress, and you personally, called upon us to do that,” the group said.

“And we see our calls for the isolation of the Swazi regime - including not lending it money - until it agrees to democratisation and wealth redistribution, as being in line with our calls to isolate the apartheid regime,” it added.

Last week King Mswati III disclosed that Swaziland had managed to secure a 2.4 billion rand loan from SA.

Soon after, the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) confirmed that government had “assisted” Swaziland, through a loan facilitated by the SARB and the Central Bank of Swaziland.

“We see the South African government's loan to Swaziland as a de facto support of the regime in power today and as an indication that the South African government does not want to support the democratic forces in Swaziland,” Africa Contact emphasised.

The group argued that the loan would help ensure that security force repression of Swaziland's democracy movements could continue and the money would not be used to pay the salaries of public servants.

“This can already be seen by the Swazi government detailing how cuts on salaries across the board in the Swazi civil service - including the police - will go through regardless of the loan from SA.”

While South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan gave assurances that the loan had strings attached and his government had seen a need for a package of fiscal and financial reforms in Swaziland, this did not satisfy the Danish group.

Africa Contact also pointed out that the present King Mswati III invited former South African Prime Minister Botha to his inauguration and that he and his predecessor sent many ANC activists straight into the hands of the South African security police.

“If the South African government believes that the loan to Swaziland will prevent the social, political and economic problems from spilling over into Swaziland's neighbours, we believe that you have misinterpreted the situation.

“Surely, as the situation in Swaziland continues to deteriorate, both economically and politically, several hundreds of thousands of Swazis without access to proper food, health care or schooling, will try their luck in SA as has been the case with many Zimbabweans. Only real political and economic reforms can prevent this.”

Africa Contact therefore asked Zuma to reconsider the loan - “and if you insist on giving it, make it conditional on specifically detailed and measurable acts of democratisation and socio-economic transformation in Swaziland.” - I-Net Bridge

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