A major part of the Swaziland Government’s economic recovery plan is in tatters as politicians and public servants are refusing to take pay cuts.
The government is looking for cuts of 10 percent to help it out of the economic mess it has created. It even told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) it would make the cuts to secure a US$125 million-plus loan from the African Development Bank and other international financiers.
But, in truth the Swazi Government isn’t able to come up with the goods.
Today (16 May 2011), it is revealed that principle secretaries – the most senior civil servants in government departments - are refusing to follow the government line.
According to the Times of Swaziland, they won’t take the cuts because they are angry that MPs and ministers will receive huge payoffs at the next national election in 2013, but they will not.
They want the so-called Circular No 1 that details the politicians’ perks also to apply to them.
They also say the government hasn’t negotiated with them over pay cuts.
They are not alone in snubbing the government. Swazi senators have already said they will not take the cut. They said proper procedures had not been followed.
Lower grade civil servants are also against the cuts. Instead, they are arguing with government that they should get a 4.5 percent INCREASE to cover the rising cost of living.
Vincent Dlamini, Secretary General of the National Public Service Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), said if the government was serious about expenditure cuts it would withdraw Circular No 1.
He said the circular awarded politicians too much money and that was why Swaziland was in an economic mess.
Cabinet ministers have agreed to take the cut, but some did so against their will. They said they couldn’t afford to take pay cuts and instead they should receive more.
So where does this leave the government’s economic plan? It had agreed spending cuts with the IMF in return for a so-called ‘letter of comfort’ from it. The government claims to have this letter and is now talking with international financial institutions for loans. But, without the salary cuts in place, the governments so-called Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap (FAR) – its recovery plan - is unworkable.
Time is running out for the government. Majozi Sithole, Swaziland’s Finance Minister, has already admitted it would be hard to pay public service salaries in June and the months after without the loan in place.