ESwatini financial crisis: DPM warns poor citizens against having many children


Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Themba Masuku


BY : EUGENE DUBE

NHLANGANO- Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Themba Masuku has warned poor citizens in the Kingdom of eSwatini to refrain from having too many children as the financial crisis suggests that government will not fulfil some of its social obligations.

The DPM was reacting to an article published by this Swaziland News that exposed how over 200 orphans at kaZenzile in the Shiselweni region was urgently in need of food aid. Speaking to this publication on the matter, Masuku confirmed that he was aware of the plight of the orphans in that orphanage but mentioned that there was nothing government can do as the financial situation in the country was worsening. “Listen Dube, the major problem we face as a country is that eMaswati are having more and more children. Why do you have more children if you do not have the resources to look after those children? You can marry 10 wives but make sure all those wives are well looked after. Umuntfu akabophe umtfwalo latawukhona kuwetfwala (meaning produce children that you can maintain).” Once we are able to manage the population, we could be a rich state. The government does not have a policy that talks about orphans. We do not have a budget for the orphans as we have many of these orphanages” said the DPM.

The Deputy Prime Minister said thousands of children were in need of food aid and other basic necessities of life and government has no financial muscle to meet their everyday needs. “We have thousands of needy children today. The sad thing is that the parents of these children are not all dead. Some are still alive and poor, but they keep on producing more children every day. My advice to all eMaswati is that they must have a reasonable number of children. You can have one or two children. As long as you can love and maintain those children” he said. The DPM said despite the challenges, government appreciates the good work by Gogo Nde of KaZenzile, however she advised her not to accommodate more orphans in the absence of resources. “I appreciate the great work done by Gogo Nde from KaZenzile area. She did very well by looking after the orphans. However, we have to be realistic; you cannot take in more orphans if you have little resources. But you can take maybe 10 needy children and assist them.” said the DPM.

Tsabile Simelane popularly known as "Gogo Nde" sacrificed her pension to care and provide future for the destitute children that were neglected by the eSwatini government. This is despite the fact that the elderly woman was forced to disability by two separate car accidents and now walks with cluthesm; however that did not hinder her from pushing her passion to cater for the needy. The orphanage is situated in the Southern part of the Kingdom of eSwatini, about 100 kilometers away from the capital city of eSwatini, Mbabane. When the Swaziland News team visited Simelane for an interview, she narrated how government through the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office honored her with an award without providing assistance to the crisis. DPM Themba Masuku whose portfolio is responsible for child welfare awarded her. However, the government never provided resources for the orphanage despite acknowledging her contribution. Simelane has turned her home into an orphanage and is struggling to feed 223 orphans.

Early July 2019, women marched to the DPM’s Office and later to the Treasury Department under the Ministry of Finance, demanding that government releases their cheques for their children’s maintenance which had been deducted from the ‘baby daddies’ salaries. The women pointed out that what irked them was that they normally collected their children’s cheques on the first week of every month at the DPM’s Office. The women alleged that their children’s monies had been withheld by the Treasury Department for more than three months. It is believed that while the government had deducted the money from the civil servants, it failed to remit it to the intended beneficiaries because of the financial challenges.