Swaziland says SA loan ‘not working out’

2013-01-08 17:20

A R2.4 billion loan that South Africa agreed to extend to Swaziland has hit a snag but the landlocked kingdom, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, can survive without it, its finance minister has said.

The loan was agreed to 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 this never materialised.

“It would seem that it’s not working out,” Swaziland Finance Minister Majozi Sithole said 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 R800 million subject to its 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 R1.7 billion.

Meanwhile, the majority of his 1.2 million subjects wallow in poverty.

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