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LOBAMBA – It was one excuse after another as over 40 civil servants yesterday confessed how they spent over E16 million meant for the Community Poverty Reduction Fund (CPRF).

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was left astounded as they learned how administrators of the funds themselves had personally taken a piece of the pie.
The fund was established by His Majesty King Mswati III in 2010 to help reduce poverty, but it would seem that the majority of the beneficiaries were employed civil servants who include teachers, police officers, the army and even officials from the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development who were the custodians of the fund.

As soon as the money started being released, each of them applied for loans and seven years later, a majority of them have not paid even a cent back.
The money was supposed to be paid back within a period of five years, as the fund was intended to be a revolving one with 7.5 per cent interest.   Instead of starting business projects, some of the officers used the funds to pay for their children’s university fees in South Africa.

One account that shocked the PAC was from Buyisile Xaba a Community Development Officer (CDO) at the Tinkhundla ministry, who admitted before the committee that she had used the money to pay for her child’s tuition at the University of Johannesburg.
She said initially she had borrowed the E40 000 to start a hawking or peddling business where she would purchase stock from Johannesburg and Mozambique.
Xaba said, however, the person whom she had tasked with running the business would sometimes use the money and it turned out that her child who was pursuing oncology could not study in Swaziland as there was no radiation therapy machinery. She then asked the PAC if she could make payments at E1 300 per month over 36 months.

Matsanjeni North MP Phila Buthelezi wondered what kind of poverty reduction Xaba had been doing if she was bold enough to say that she had taken her child to the university.
Another officer an assistant account at same ministry also told the PAC that he was one of the ‘main culprits’ as he had borrowed E100 000 from the fund, where he then bought a toilet paper roll making machine and packaging material.
The officer, Dingiswayo Mthethwa told the PAC that he had even secured a contract with all Pick n Pay stores to supply them with the toilet paper.

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