MANZINI :- Civil servants and pro-democracy groups has called for the reduction of King Mswati and his royal family’s budget reduced.
This comes after the stand-off between government and the civil servants with the latter demanding a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), while the former says awarding same might worsen the already ailing economy. Government later run to the Industrial Court to interdict the Public Sector Associations (PSAs) from participating in the strike action. It has been disclosed that this year, the King’s budget was over $80million(about R1.3 billion), this was heavily criticized by the trade union leaders and pro-democracy groups in the country as about 70% of the population live below the poverty line with government struggling to sustain the wages for workers.
Sikelela Dlamini, the Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) said the country was being drained by the large number of members of the royal family. “We are concerned with the way the royal family spend our money, the number of members of the royal family is huge. It would have been better if those who are taken care of by the State are the children of the current King only not even grandchildren of late Kings. Where are we going to get the money to sustain such a huge family?” he asked.
Reached for comments, Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane said it would be hard for government to respond if the trade union leaders and pro-democracy groups keeps on saying the royal budget was huge without bringing on board the number that make it huge. “It would be highly unprofessional of me to entertain, the perception of a high Royal budget in the absence of a figure that makes it huge. With due respect if political parties do not know the Royal budget what is the baseline for the mathematics that leads to ‘too high’ to the allocation of funds to the household in question,” said the Government Spokesperson.
Simelane slammed the trade unions leaders and pro-democracy groups saying he was not even aware of a Constitutional Monarch in the world whose country was a spaceship of goodness and social bliss. “I am not aware of a Constitutional Monarch whose country is a spaceship of goodness and social bliss anywhere in the world. They all have problems. Secondly, they do not run a country by an individual opinion or mob but by the Constitution. The destiny of this country is defined in the Constitution. Any piece of legislation that is not in conformity with the Constitution of the land is null and void. To throw in administrative opinions from the street would be a political piracy to all normal thinking persons” he said.
Thulani Hlatshwayo, Secretary General of the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) said government was failing the country by not reducing the royal budget. “The Prime Minister earlier published a strategic road map. Here the Prime Minister identified that the Swazi monarchy was being given large sums of money and further promised to cut down on the budget. We are shocked to learn that the Monarch is still milking our economy” he said.
Reached for comments, Pius Vilakati, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) said the Monarchy should understand that it exist because of the people. “The first important consideration in this case relates to who needs the other in the relationship between the Monarchy and the people. It goes without saying that the Monarchy can never survive without the people yet the people can survive well without the Monarchy” he said.
Thamsanqa Hlatshwayo, the Chairperson of the Ngwane National Liberation Congress (NNLC) said that the Monarchy can co-exist with a modern system of leadership. “We say let’s do away with an absolute Monarchy in Swaziland! we want a Constitutional Monarchy. In 1968 up to 1973 we had a Constitutional Monarchy- it existed well. Having this absolute Monarchy threatens our natural resources as the King can use funds allocated for the government departments willy-nilly. So far, the Monarchy cannot be held accountable. Under a new political set up of a Constitutional Monarch we can hold royalty accountable to the people” he said.
Wandile Dludlu, the Secretary General of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) accused King Mswati of looting public funds on international trips claiming to lure investors. “It is very expensive to sustain a Monarchy not here in eSwatini but around the world as you might be aware that government bought a jet for the King. He takes funds from public coffers willy-nilly and no one can question him on this. You will note that even King Zwelithini of Kwa-Zulu always complain about funds, just that he does not have direct access” The propaganda suggesting that the King always travels to lure investors into the country remains a big lie, he has failed in more than 20 years to bring investors into the country” he said.
Civil servants, pro-democracy groups demands reduction of royal budget