With a country having the world’s highest number of HIV-AIDS infected patients, Swaziland’s government has failed to pay more than $10m (£6.3m) in grants to Aids orphans as it is facing a huge financial crisis. The huge rate of HIV-AIDS has actually left a generation of some 69,000 orphans.
As reported by the IMF, the main reason of Swaziland facing this financial crisis, have been due to lavish spending by King Mswati III and his 13 wives, increasing wage bills and generous allowances been regularly given to politicians and top civil servants. However, the government blamed its financial problems entirely on the global economic crisis and a sharp decline in the landlocked kingdom’s income from the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu).
Also, Swaziland has not yet accepted a $355m bailout from neighboring country South Africa after Pretoria, one of the capitals of the country, promised the bailout only if a series of conditions are followed in Swaziland which includes political and economic reforms. Swaziland is probably one of the last existing absolute monarchies in the world.
An IMF team led by Mr. Mongardini, after visiting Swaziland, declared that the Swaziland’s government was facing “Due to severe liquidity constraints, government revenue collections are insufficient to cover essential government expenditures, including the wage bill and more importantly, key social programs are being negatively affected. Mr. Mongardini also told that the government had owed $10m in grants to orphans and $4m to elderly people since September. He said 26% of Swaziland’s adult population is infected with HIV/Aids, and tens of thousands of children are orphans. And that the IMF had asked the government to reduce its wage bill by 5% by slashing, among others, generous allowances given to politicians and top civil servants.
An increase in security force numbers have also led to an increase in the wage bill, he said. King Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa’s only absolute monarch, and has refused to introduce multi-party democracy. At the weekend, Swaziland’s top Anglican cleric, Bishop Meshack Mabuza, called on King Mswati to give up political power in favour of a democratic government. Swaziland is one of the last countries in the world ruled by an absolute monarchy, where political parties are banned and King Mswati is holding power since 1986.
Report by Indrani Chowdury