18 November 2011
After Europe the winds of change blow towards Swaziland
The Times Editorial: The economic downturn across the world, it seems, is becoming the latest tool to remove ineffective governments from office.
The eurozone, the third-biggest economy in the world, has seen some of its governments toppled due to the downturn.
In less than a month, Greece and Italy have seen their heads of state removed from office. Their departure came not as a result of military coups or elections, but their inability to weather the economic storms.
In Italy, long-serving prime minister Silvio Berlusconi moved out of office last weekend, while George Papandreou in Greece also had to resign after weeks of protests against economic turmoil in the streets.
Politics took a back seat as citizens demanded a leadership that will provide economic stability.
But across our border, Swaziland's King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarch, is sitting pretty while his country is about to be declared bankrupt.
The International Monetary Fund warned the Swaziland government on Wednesday that its economic growth will grind down to near zero.
The fund said Swaziland's fiscal crisis has reached a critical stage and that government revenue collection is insufficient to cover essential public expenditures.
In his attempt to continue to stifle political freedom, Mswati refused a R2.4-billion bailout from South Africa because it came with conditions.
In a country like Swaziland, where political freedom is curtailed, nothing seems to threaten King Mswati, who boasts an extensive share portfolio in his country's strategic companies, and his government for now.
But as we have seen in Europe and other countries, economic collapse has the potential to bring down the most powerful.
It is only a matter of time before politicians will find themselves outside parliament and technocrats running the show as has now happened in Italy.