Work harder, don’t protest, Swazi king tells country

2011-03-19 12:01

Mbabane – Swaziland’s King Mswati III had called for his people to “work harder and sacrifice more” instead of protesting against the country’s economic downturn, state media said today.

Thousands of public workers marched through the capital yesterday after reports that the government was planning to cut salaries and jobs to comply with demands by the International Monetary Fund to get its finances in order.

“It helps no one to go to the streets and cause disruption in times when the country is buckling under the pressure of the economic downturn,” Mswati told the state-run Observer newspaper.

“We need to work even harder and sacrifice even more today for a better tomorrow. The storms shall pass for sure.”

The secretary-general of the National Public Service and Allied Workers’ Union, the country’s largest public workers organisation, said the king’s call was laughable.

“The economic crisis is the symptom of a very serious disease and we must deal with the root cause – a political system that is not transparent or accountable to the people,” said its secretary-general Vincent Dlamini.

“This is a system just for the elite and the royal family, and as long as it is in place, there is no way we are going to heal the economic wounds we are suffering from at the moment,” he said.

The impoverished kingdom is under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to cut its wage bill if Swaziland is to qualify for much-needed international loans.

King Mswati, southern Africa’s last absolute monarch, is criticised for his lavish spending on luxury cars and palaces for his 13 wives. 

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