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SA's Swaziland loan hits a snag

Jan 08 2013 17:16 Reuters
Reed-dance swaziland, swaziland

Maidens carry reeds as they make their way to the Queen Mother's Royal Palace to deliver them at Ludzidzini in Mbabane, Swaziland. (AP)

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Johannesburg - A R2.4bn ($280m) loan that South Africa agreed to extend to Swaziland has hit a snag but the landlocked kingdom, Africa's last absolute monarchy, can survive without it, its finance minister said on Tuesday.

The loan was agreed in 2011 as Swaziland grappled with an acute funding crisis. South Africa was due to release the first tranche of the bailout last year but the money never materialised.

"It would seem that it's not working out," Finance Minister Majozi Sithole told Reuters in Johannesburg, citing additional conditions set by South Africa.

"If we can't get it because of any complications it's not a train smash for Swaziland. We will live without it."

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told parliament in August that Pretoria would release the first R800m subject to its neighbour meeting certain fiscal and technical conditions.

The deal had initially hit problems when Swaziland objected to Pretoria's demands for political and economic reforms in the southern African kingdom, criticised internationally over its ban on political parties.

The budget crunch, triggered by a sharp decline in receipts from a regional customs union, caused unprecedented protests against Swazi ruler King Mswati III, who has a personal fortune estimated at $200m.

Meanwhile, majority of the 1.2 million citizens wallow in poverty.

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south africa  |  swaziland bail-out  |  loan
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