NATIONAL NEWS - South Africa has agreed to bail out the continent's last absolute monarch by lending its nearly bankrupt neighbour Swaziland 2.5 billion rand (370 million dollars), officials said on Wednesday.
"I can confirm that the Reserve Bank will be facilitating a loan agreed between the two governments," said Hlengani Mathebula, spokesman for the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).
Opposition groups say the sum is only about a quarter of the full assistance Swaziland King Mswati III was seeking.
South African Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan was to give a press conference on the matter later in the day.
According to a report in The Times of Swaziland, the king also secured financial assistance from the European Union worth 1 billion rand, largely for the agricultural sector.
Swaziland is "not the only country faced with fiscal crisis, but the world over," the king was reported to have said, in thanking South Africa for the loans.
An absolute monarchy, the small country of 1.2 million people in southern Africa is facing bankruptcy. Mswati is accused by opposition groups of leading a lavish lifestyle while his kingdom sinks deeper into poverty amid economic mismanagement.
Civil servants' salaries were cut this year, leading to mass protests in April that were violently crushed by security forces.
Parts of the ruling alliance in South Africa, including the powerful trade unions, have opposed the king's crackdown on the opposition, urging democratic reforms.
Source : Sapa
Posted on: 16:10 Wed, 03 August 2011
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