Swazi king wants $57 million cut from rescue loan: report

28th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

The King of Swaziland wants a $57 million cut from a rescue loan South Africa has extended to his country in exchange for his efforts to secure the funds, media reported Saturday.

King Mswati III wants the money from a $330 million loan that Pretoria has offered in order to save the financially troubled kingdom, according to South Africa's Saturday Star.

At a Tuesday cabinet meeting, the king claimed he was entitled to the commission because he convinced South Africa to provide the loan after the country was turned down by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the report said.

"This is like a mafia. (The king) loves money and it is destroying the country," Lucky Lukhele, spokesman for the South Africa-based Swaziland Solidarity Network advocacy group was quoted as saying.

Lukhele told the paper his sources on the issue were "impeccable."

The rescue loan, announced earlier this month, has been widely criticised by activists who insist any aid should be directly tied to governance reform in a kingdom where political parties have been banned since 1973 and where pro-democracy demonstrations were violently crushed in April.

A World Bank assessment team is currently visiting Swaziland and their assessment will likely be key in determining whether the kingdom can access international financing.

The king, whose fortune is estimated at 100 million dollars, has called on his people to make sacrifices amid tough economic times.

While the national budget faces drastic cuts, the king's budget was boosted in March from $24 million to $30 million.

More than 70 percent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day.

None of the king's representatives were available to comment, the report said.

© 2011 AFP

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