Swaziland will never pay back loan – Cosatu

2011-09-09 14:03

Swaziland will never repay South Africa its R2.4 billion loan, despite claims it will come from future revenues, Cosatu said today.

“It (the loan) provides breathing space for the regime,” Cosatu’s deputy president, Zingiswa Losi, told journalists in Johannesburg.

“It does not address the need for democratisation in any serious manner.” Losi said Swaziland already owed the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank R70 billion.

Cosatu called on the South African government to rethink the bailout and disassociate itself from the Swazi regime.

“We did not meet a single person in Swaziland who said that the bailout was welcomed,” Losi said.

“On the contrary, everyone we met, both inside and outside of the democracy movement, said that the bailout will actually make matters worse.”

Losi said Cosatu wanted to “guard” the loan given to the Swazi regime to make sure it was spent properly.

“There are five protests in provinces today ... outside all the branches of the Reserve Bank to draw attention to the bankruptcy of the bailout, and the regime it will support.”

Swaziland’s People’s United Democratic Movement secretary-general, Skhumbuzo Phakathi, agreed. “South Africa’s taxpayers’ money is being used to bail out Swaziland, so workers have a right to say how it should be spent.”

Phakathi said the loan was supposedly going to be spent on construction, but he did not know what construction the regime was talking about. He said the Swazi government had spent the past five years building an airport, when the country did not have an airline.

Losi and Cosatu’s deputy international secretary, Zanele Matebula, were arrested in the southern Swazi town of Siteki on Wednesday when they tried to address a crowd during a pro-democracy march. They were deported back to South Africa. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the protest.

Losi said Swazi police told the protest’s organisers that Cosatu would not be allowed to address the crowd because it posed a threat to national security.

“There is no hidden agenda, no plots to topple the monarchy, or to do anything other than to say to our friends in the democracy movement that you are not alone.”

During the deportation she and her colleagues had to give the Swazi police all their details, including residential addresses, Losi said.

“They said they will check up on us and follow us to make sure we didn’t lie. We are fearing ... We don’t know about security at home. We have told the people of Swaziland we will be back.”

Phakathi said this was the first time a protest had been successfully sustained. “The people of the world are now standing up and realising there is a problem in Swaziland. We are taking the struggle to the comfort zone of the royal family,” he said.

More than 23 cities around the world were marching in support of the Swazi people, Phakathi claimed.

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