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Army to spend E2.4m per day

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MBABANE – Government has allocated over E867 million operational
costs for the Ministry of Defence in the next financial year beginning April 1, 2013.

The Ministry of Defence which incorporates the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force has been allocated E867 291 000 in total for the 2013/14 financial year.

This is according to the Appropriation Bill yet to be debated in Parliament.

The Bill is a summary of all allocations for the various ministries and departments like the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), which has been allocated E9 million for the year.

Recurrent expenditure allocation for the ministry amounts to E805 478 000 while E61 813 000 will be used for capital expenditure.

As usual, the ministry’s budget was higher than those of other security forces.

Government set aside E700 million and E329 million, respectively for the Royal Swaziland Police and the Correctional Services department.

Overall, government will spend E1.9 billion on the three security forces from a budget of about E12.6 billion. This translates to just over 15 per cent of the nation’s annual budget.

When the Ministry of Defence’s budgetary allocation is compared to the overall national budget, it amounts to at least 6.8 per cent of the kingdom’s budget for the next financial year which begins on April 1, 2013 and ends on March 31, 2014. The budget for the department increased by E109 million from last year’s, which stood at E758 million.

The Ministry of Defence’s share of the budget is the fourth highest when compared to other portfolios. It is only lower than the ministries of Education and Training, Health and Public Works and Transport. It surpasses budgets for many departments, among which are the Ministry of Agriculture which has been allocated E533 million.

According to the Budget Estimates for the years 2013 to 2016, the objective of the ministry is to ensure the security of the country. A huge chunk of the Ministry of Defence’s budget would cater for salaries which are referred to as personnel costs. The ministry will spend over E507 million on salaries for the army.

The Ministry of Education and Training was allocated E 2.2 billion, the Ministry of Health which was apportioned E1.4 billion and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport was allocated E1.1 billion. The Ministry of Education employs about 15 000 teachers while the army employs about 4 000 soldiers.

On Wednesday, a motion to reject the budget was moved in Parliament by Nonhlanhla Dlamini, Ludzeludze Member of Parliament (MP) during the Budget Speech debate. Her grounds were that there were a lot of unfulfilled promises made by government on the fiscus spending.

These included the wage bill, where there was talk from all sectors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it should be reduced.

Instead of heeding that advice, government increased the wage bill to about E600 million. Other issues she raised against the budget included the allocation for the Sikhuphe airport, service delivery, and the E20 per person increase of elderly citizens’ social grants.

According to the World Bank, Swaziland’s military expenditure for the year 2011 accounted to 3.1 per cent of GDP. The country was rated among top five countries in Africa who spent a bigger portion of their budget on the military. Just like in previous years, the Anti Corruption Commission was the least funded department.

Government allocated a budget of E9.4 million for the department led by recently appointed Commissioner, Thanda Mngwengwe, a former head of the defunct South Africa’s Scorpions.

The ACC is followed by the Audit department with a budget of E13 million. Government allocated E110 million to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC). This money will be used to pay salaries for officers working at the EBC and will also be used to conduct the 2013 national elections.

Mtiti says it’s not enough

 

MBABANE – Mtiti Fakudze, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation says the budget allocation to the Ministry of Defence is too small.

He said the department needed the money to beef up security of the country. The minister believes government’s attitude was to be proactive than reactive. He could not disclose which areas needed to be strengthened and how they would be fortified, because issues of national security were top secret. However, he conceded that the kingdom was not at war and had no potential enemies from neighbours South Africa and Mozambique.

The minister was quick to add that Swaziland was being menaced by cattle rustlers who forcefully took stock from owners. He said among other things more funds were required to deal with the issue of stock theft because it was becoming a threat to the nation’s peace. The minister said cattle thieves were on the rampage along the country’s borders, where livestock is stolen and taken to countries like Mozambique. He said the army, among other things is presently dealing with this problem and it needed more resources to deal with this ‘war.’ The minister said this when asked about the huge budget allocation for the Defence Ministry.

Fakudze said what was disappointing was the fact that the perpetrators of the crime were Swazis who worked with certain people to drive the priced animals outside the country borders. "Just recently, I received a call from a Member of Parliament (MP) representing one of the constituencies in the Lubombo region. He told me that a herd of cattle was forcefully stolen from its owners and driven to Mozambique," he said.

He also said he would be soon heading for Mozambique where he would sign a Memorandum of Understanding with that country over security, particularly along these countries’ borderlines to curb cattle rustling.

Speaking about issues of security in February 2011, Majozi Sithole told an open stakeholder dialogue on the 2011/12 budget and Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap. "Yes, we are spending a lot on the army but we are not anticipating what is happening in North Africa to come here. However, the army is there to avoid such situations." 

Sithole was responding to a question about why so much money was being spent on the army and police.

A diplomatic cable, written in 2009 by Maurice Parker, the then United States of America Ambassador to Swaziland, revealed that the United Kingdom government had blocked an arms deal between a UK company Unionlet and the Swazi Government. The Swazis wanted to buy equipment worth US$60 million (E426 million).

Abolish the army – SNAT secretary

MBABANE – Muzi Mhlanga, Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) says Swaziland should consider abolishing the army because it is a waste of resources.

He said the country did not need an army, particularly because it was peaceful and neighbours like South Africa and Mozambique existed in harmony with the kingdom. Mhlanga said even if the country had problems with its neighbours, it was impossible for it to act on those threats with the full might of an army than diplomacy. He said this was because the country’s army could never match the military prowess of any of its neighbours being South Africa and Mozambique.

Mhlanga said since the defence against threats from other countries was not possible, the only meaningful reason for having an army in Swaziland was to suppress the will of the people.

He said instead of spending more resources on the army, government should use the money on priority areas like health and education, as identified by the same government. He said government should also consider looking into the welfare of civil servants. He said civil servants’ salaries had been stagnant for three years and, therefore, more money should be paid to them.

Mphandlana Shongwe, the National Organiser of the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) also said Swaziland did not need an army.

He said the history of the army, since its establishment in the 70s was to suppress political parties and reforms. He said before then, the country survived without an army and, therefore, any resources dedicated to the force were a waste.

Shongwe also said the country had no threat of a war whether internally or externally.


COMMENTS:

-Thank you for breaking it down for us. This shows that we have a gov't that's very sick, metaphorically. The PM went to Rwanda last year and came back to tell us that he was impressed with their arms of war. The huge budget for the army suggests he's trying hard to compete with Rwanda. I hope we won't see the creation of a version of the M23 in Swaziland. This is not right because there's so much poverty in this country which this money could have been used for, but we are obsessed with an imminent war which only gov't can see. Yet we claim we are a peaceful country at the same time. How does our unique 'peace' explain this massive budget allocation to the armed forces? Are we hypocrites or what?
March 10, 2013, 9:57 am, Disgruntled Swazi Tax Payer

-E2 million to look after cattle (top secret operations), kahleni maswati!! so much injustice to the herd boys lemakhaya.
March 10, 2013, 11:17 am, SGAGU

 - There is no need to allocate such a huge amount to the army,as i comment on this article,i am from two army barracks and gues what i found.I found a good number of uniformed and non uniformed soldiers basking the sun,telling stories and as usually drinking alcohol and smoking cigerates.If they are not doing the above mentioned things,they move around proposing girls and impregnanting them.There is really no need increase the number of soldiers and instead government need to reduce their salaries and budget allocated to the army.
March 10, 2013, 11:28 am, Sting

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