Just as news is announced that the poorest workers in Swaziland are to be forced to pay income tax for the first time, Swazi Members of Parliament have voted more money for themselves.
The move also comes just as civil servants in Swaziland have been told they will not get improved salaries this year because the money has run out.
The MPs want E13 million (about 1.3 million US dollars) that was set aside for them in December 2009 to be handed over.
A government directive increased perks for ministers and MPs, but this was set aside after rows in parliament that it gave more money to cabinet ministers than to MPs.
Now, even though Swaziland is on the verge of bankruptcy and government budgets have been slashed, the parliamentarians refuse to give up.
The MPs’ selfishness was called ‘greed’ by Mbongeni Mbingo, editor of the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper. Writing in his own newspaper, he said the decision, ‘marked the end of any dream that this country could pull itself together and work towards a common purpose of finding a solution to this disastrous situation’.
He said the MPs failed to show ‘that they are aware that the people that voted them into office did so because they expected them to represent the people’s interests and not those of their stomachs’.