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South Africa confirms $368 mln loan to Swaziland

South Africa has agreed to a 2.5 billion rand ($368-million, 259-million-euro) loan to neighbouring Swaziland, which is suffering a crippling financial crisis, the Reserve Bank said Wednesday.

Spokesman Hlengani Mathebula confirmed the deal but declined to give details on the loan.

“The South African Reserve Bank is just a facilitating mechanism,” he told AFP.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was expected to speak later in the day about the loan, which amounted to just one-quarter of the request reportedly made by Swazi King Mswati III.

South Africa’s powerful labour unions, key allies of the ruling African National Congress, have joined Swazi activists in pressing for Pretoria to demand democratic reforms in exchange for the loan.

Mswati is Africa’s last absolute monarch and the financial crisis has sparked a series of demonstrations since April demanding reforms.