Building vibrant and tolerant democracies
Swaziland still needs bail out from South Africa
It seems as if South Africa’s promised 2.4 billion rand bailout for Swaziland is still on the cards despite King Mswati objecting to some of its conditions. And not just on the cards but desperately needed. Khabonina Mabuza, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, said this week that the E7 billion that Swaziland was due to receive from the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) receipts would not be enough to end the crisis in the bankrupt nation.
She stressed that the bailout was critical and a failure to receive it would leave Swaziland even worse off than before. Her statement follows remarks by the Prime Minister, Sibusiso Dlamini, in December that the country was ready to receive the much-needed money as most of the conditions had been met. However, he did admit that a few processes still had to be concluded.
"If we don’t get the E2.4 billion we will be in very bad shape,” said Mabuza. “We are not out of the woods even though we will be getting the E7 billion from SACU.”
Institute for Security Studies’ paper irks Swazi authorities
The South Africa-based regional think tank, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), has riled the Swazi authorities by stating that Swaziland represents a credible threat to regional peace and security as the country prepares for its ‘elections’ in 2013.
A researcher at the ISS, Dimpho Motsamai, is reported to have remarked in a paper that the growing dissent towards the Tinkhundla system of governance ahead of the 2013 general elections has the potential to threaten peace and stability in the SADC region. He further suggested that a referendum and legislative reforms were required ahead of the elections in order to strengthen democracy and human rights in Swaziland.
In his wide ranging paper, Motsamai concluded that there appeared to be a gap between the policy and practice of SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and that SADC’s exceptionalism regarding Swaziland was a cause for concern.
Motsamai’s remarks have been met with scorn and speedy rebuttal by local authorities. First to fire a salvo against him was the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mtiti Fakudze, who blasted the research paper labeling it inaccurate and “off the mark”. Speaking on national radio, the minister went to town lambasting the research paper and emphasizing that Swaziland “has never nor will ever be a threat to peace and stability in the SADC region.”
Adding to this, the government Press Secretary, Percy Simelane, came out with guns blazing and firing from all cylinders regarding the matter: “Swaziland has never experienced civil war and this is not by coincidence but by design, which makes the report in question nothing but an optical illusion of the first order purported to mislead cheap audiences.” He remarked that the non-participation of political parties in elections was “a decision that was taken by the nation and not imposed on them by the leadership.” Furthermore, he stated, political parties are “just one component of democracy and do not necessarily translate to peace.
This demonstrably false position demonstrates the level of obstinacy of the country’s authorities and signifies that there will be a very tough road ahead as civil society gears itself for the upcoming general elections in 2013.
Mystery as Obiang Leaves Swaziland Without Publicly Signing Oil Deal As Anticipated
After spending two days in Swaziland, the President of the Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, departed with mystery surrounding the so-called ‘oil deal’ that Swaziland was to have signed with Africa’s longest serving leader. A public signing ceremony and press conference that was to be held by King Mswati and Obiang was cancelled at the last minute – and no explanation has yet been forthcoming.
The deal itself boggled many minds since Swaziland has no oil refinery to refine Equatorial Guinea’s crude oil and the bankrupt State coffers would struggle to purchase the crude and pay for its refining in South Africa. With information about the oil deal as scarce as water in a desert, it remains to be seen whether any of the oil every makes it to Swaziland.
Meanwhile, King Mswati is expected to officially open Parliament on the 3rd February 2012, when he will outline the policy direction for the country for the next 12 months. The nation awaits this eagerly, although few believe it will involve any moves towards a more democratic and open society.ShareThis