South African loan to Swaziland hinges on IMF conditions

14 September 2011

The crisis-hit government of Swaziland agreed a 2.4 billion rand ($324 million) loan from South Africa in August, which will be conditioned on the adoption of IMF-recommended fiscal reforms (see Update 72). Swaziland was unable to borrow money directly from the IMF after failing in May to meet conditions attached to their non-financing IMF staff-monitored programme. South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan has made clear that IMF fiscal reform advice would also be at the heart of conditionality on South Africa’s bilateral loan, stating that “all of those things would have to be delivered as each tranche requires”. However, the loan deal was criticised by anti-monarchy activists in Swaziland for propping up a “corrupt regime”. Unions and demonstrators organised daily mass protests in early September to try to oust king Mswati III.

Meanwhile, loan disbursements from South Africa have not been made. “No money will be transferred until the paperwork has been signed,” South African Treasury spokeswoman Kershia Singh said in early September, according to Reuters. “We were aiming for August. It’s obviously taking longer than we anticipated.” The Swazi Observer newspaper speculated in early September that the “loan from South Africa could be hanging in the balance following the country’s lack of commitment towards implementing fiscal reforms.” A late August IMF mission gave another negative review of the Swazi government’s implementation of recommended reforms under the staff monitored programme.