Swazi activists Thursday criticized South Africa's decision to grant the kingdom a $355-million bailout, saying the deal offers no guarantees that King Mswati III will follow through on democratic reforms.
The 2.4-billion-rand ($355-million) loan requires Mswati, Africa's last absolute monarch, to open "dialogue" on political reforms in the tiny landlocked kingdom teetering on the verge of financial collapse.But the deal announced Wednesday by South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan does not say who should be included in the dialogue, neither did it set out concrete steps for Mswati to move toward democracy.
"It is a wrong decision," likening the loan to "throwing money into a porous bucket," said Mario Masuku, leader of Swaziland's banned opposition People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).
The loan leaves unclear how South Africa will enforce its demand for talks on reforms, said Sikela Dlamini, co-ordinator of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, an umbrella group of activists. "I would be interested in how South Africa plans to ensure Swaziland goes beyond undertakings in writing and actually does the things they promised they would do. We are dealing with a government that cannot be trusted," he said.
Even the Congress of South African Trade Unions said the loan conditions "come nowhere close to the demands being made by the people of Swaziland for democracy, human rights and an end to the parasitic monarchy."
It is unclear how this huge loan will play out for the people of Swaziland due to a lack of democracy. Hopefully the voices of activists will be heard and the South African government will clearly spell out what the terms and conditions of the loans really are. If they do not, it they might just end up donating millions to a dictator.