European Union, USA must stop funding un-democratic Swazi regime



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

The European Union (EU) has been undermining calls for democratic reforms in Swaziland; perhaps unaware by funding projects that subsequently benefits King Mswati through the controversial Tibiyo TakaNgwane particularly in the sugar industry.

It is worth mentioning that the report by a Denmark based Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Afrika Konkat highlights the true picture of what is happening in the country in as far as the programs of the EU supports the Royal family through Tibiyo TakaNgwane. The indirect funding of the absolute Monarch enables the King to live an extravagant lifestyle while over 70% of the population languish in poverty and one wonders why the EU supports a single man at the expense of the 1.4 million people.

Furthermore, the decision by the EU to fund Free Primary Education (FPE) in a country where its leader wear a R21million, own a jet worth close to R1billion not to mention his children who also wore watches worth millions suggest that the international community is not seriously about helping the people of Swaziland now eSwatini to taste freedom for the first time in centuries. It is surprising that for so many years, organizations like the EU are struggling to just press the button and impose economic sanctions to force this country to adopt democratic reforms. As the situation stands, it is only King Mswati who benefits from all the monies and taxes in the country. This country is too small and there wouldn’t be social challenges if the resources were prioritized for the benefit of the people not only the Royal family. Now King Mswati owns a jet, his children are wearing watches worth millions while on the other hand, the government claims there’s no money to fulfill social obligations, what shame!

It is a complete disgrace for organizations like the EU to claim they promote democracy when on the other hand they are funding dictatorships like the Swazi regime. The World Food Programme (WFP) reported in 2017 that about 350 000 Swazis were in urgent need of food aid and in 2018, the King purchased a close to R1billion jet, why are these international organizations fooled by King Mswati that they continue funding his extravagant lifestyle? The WFP should consider that in Swaziland there is no civil war that such a number of people could be in need of food aid, the situation has been promoted by corruption and abuse of State resources by King and the government. As the situation stand, it seems the WFP will end up feeding even Swazis who holds the highest qualifications and could have afforded to sustain themselves and others if the government was creating jobs with those resources, instead of funding the lifestyle of one man and his family.

The country is capable of feeding all its citizens and further exports products to EU countries but this can only happen in a conducive political environment, not the current dictatorship where Swazis are afraid to even assembly and discuss business ideas due to lack of freedom of expression. In this regard, the alternative solutions is to impose sanctions in the country until it democratize and allow political parties will contest elections instead of the current system that legitimize dictatorship. It’s high time these international organizations went on a fact-finding mission especially in the rural areas to get first hand information and witness victims of poverty perpetrated by the ruling regime instead of relying on Swazi censored media. The situation is getting worse day by day and if action is not taken urgently most Swazis will die of HIV/AIDS. It’s true there is no civil war in the country but people are dying of poverty and the numbers amounts to crimes against humanity by this brutal regime. It is regrettable that King Mswati has adopted this spending strategy to create impression in the eyes of the international community that there is money in the country when about half of the population relies on foreign aid for food and other basic necessities of life.

On the other hand, the United States of America (USA) has been funding programs that seeks to bring services to the people thus giving the King a gate way to loot resources including taxes to fund his lavish lifestyle. The recent warning by US Ambassador to Swaziland Lisa Peterson with regards to the extravagant spending by the Swazi government is not enough especially if directed to an arrogant leader like King Mswati. The international community should, instead of issuing warnings, adopt appropriate measures to mitigate the situation. I am failing to understand why the EU and the USA are allowing the King to fool them in this manner by seeking funding in a country where the expenditure tells a different story. As mentioned, the country is too small to be relying on foreign funding, the problem is the corruption influenced by lack of democratic reforms. Therefore, the EU and the government of the USA must choose to either postpone the problem or solve it so that their money could be directed to other countries that are seriously in need of aid.

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