Foreign love is pricey in eSwatini

Residents of the kingdom of Swaziland, now called eSwatini, will have to pay dearly if they want to marry a foreign national – if the Finance Bill of 2018 is signed into law.

According to the draft law still before Parliament, a Swazi citizen will have to pay 30 000 Swazi lilangeni (R29 900) to have their marriage to a foreigner registered with home affairs. This is in addition to any payments of lobolo or dowry due to the in-laws.

Currently, a Swazi national pays 100 lilangeni for a pre-application to register their marriage.

Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze was quoted by a local daily newspaper as saying that 30 000 lilangeni was nothing and was justified for those wanting to marry a foreigner.

The bill was reportedly kept under wraps until local media got wind of it. Government allegedly intended to push it through as soon as the king dissolved Parliament late next month.

This is in preparation for the national tinkhundla elections, to be held on September 21.

In terms of the country’s Constitution, once the king dissolves Parliament, the country is run by a council of ministers who have legislative powers and can draft laws. These are taken to the king to sign
into law.

According to information shared with City Press, the proposed changes are regarded as a step against regional integration and fly in the face of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which calls for the free movement of people from Cape Town to Cairo.

This proposal and other tax changes came under attack at a recent one-day meeting of civil society groups.

Other changes being mooted include hiking the fees for some government services by fourfold in some cases.

It currently costs 50 lilangeni to obtain a Swazi identity document, but this could increase to 200 lilangeni if the bill is signed into law.

Any person nursing hopes of slaughtering more than 36 head of cattle a month, and who is not at an official abattoir, will have to pay tax of 100 lilangeni. The new law requires people who want to slaughter cattle to first seek permission to do so.

Another change in the pipeline is that motorists have to pay an extra 3.20 lilangeni per litre of petrol. This has left a bad taste in the mouths of a number of civil society representatives at the gathering.

Any person who loses a passport would have to pay 350 lilangeni for a new one. It currently costs 80 lilangeni.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze was quoted to have told a local daily that the amount of E30 000 was nothing so it was a justified figure for people hoping to marry foreign spouses.

The bill was reportedly kept under wraps up until local media got wind about the proposed bill that the government intends pushing it through as soon as the king dissolves Parliament late next month in preparation for the national Tinkkhundla elections to be held on September 21.

In terms of the country’s constitution immediately the king dissolves Parliament, the country is run by council of ministers who also have legislative powers that can promulgate any law that can be taken to the king sign it into law.

According to information shared with City Press the new changes were regarded as a step against regional integration, something that flies in the face of the African Union Agenda 2063. This is a principle that calls for the free movement of people from Cape to Cairo.

However, this proposal and other tax changes came under attack at a recent meeting held by civil society.

The changes include the hiking of user fees that they used to pay E50 but the new changes will now mean they have to pay four times or more.

National ID is currently E50 and it will cost E200, if bill becomes law.

Any person nursing hopes of slaughtering a head of over 36 cattle per month, who is not at an official abattoir, will have to pay tax of E100.

The new law will now require one to seek permission first and prove that the number was still the allowed number before inviting guests for a feast.

Motorists would also have to be charged and extra E3.20 per litre of petrol and that has left a bad taste in the mouths of a number of emaSwati that were reported to be in attendance during the one day meeting.

Any person who loses a passport would have to pay E350 for a new one. The current passport costs E80.

International was E160 and now it may be cost around E500, if bill becomes law.

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