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image Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg (L), Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku (C) and Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini captured shortly after the budget speech was delivered. (Pic: Sibusiso Zwane)

LOBAMBA – Despite the hiring freeze, government has been given the green light to recruit 600 personnel for the three security forces.
This is 150 more than the number that government had initially planned to add to the security personnel.

The country’s security forces are the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS), Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) and His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS).

This was revealed yesterday after chairperson of the Finance Sessional Committee, Manzini North MP Thandi Nxumalo, tabled a report on the Budget Estimates for the financial year 2020/2021.


The report is yet to be debated and adopted by the House of Assembly next Wednesday.
According to the report, under Head 05, which is the police service, in their recurrent budget, there was an allowance and budget allocation for 150 recruits for each security force.

However, a recommendation made by the Finance Committee was that considering the number of vacant positions in each of the security forces and those officers who would be retiring before the year ended, each security force recruits 200 officers to fill the vacant positions.


However, a reliable source informed this publication that under the army, the recruitment exercise may not take place for unmentioned reasons.
The allocation for the 2020/2021 under REPS in the recurrent expenditure is E1.03 billion and under capital expenditure, the Appropriation Bill, 2020, a total of E75 million has been budgeted. This will be a total of E1.1 billion when compared to the 2019 budget, which was at E1.08 billion.

Under the UEDF, the total amount allocated under recurrent expenditure is about E1.239 billion as compared to last year’s E1.227 billion.
An additional E50 million has been allocated to the army under their capital projects. 


This indicates an increase of E11.9 million when compared to last year’s allocation.
Members of the UEDF are best earners when compared to their counterparts in the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), who earn E6 060.83 on the entry level.
Locally, members of the army earn an average of E12 000 at entry level. However, their salary is said to have been increased from this figure.
The annual entry salary of a private in the LDF is E72 729.96, while in the UEDF, it is about E144 000.

According to globalsecurity.org, in Lesotho, there are 3 100 soldiers in active duty while in Eswatini, it is estimated that there are about 3 500 army personnel. Members of the UEDF are recruited from all the different constituencies in the country.

They are recruited once they are above the age of 18 and should be physically fit. Also, they have to complete their high school curriculum.
Meanwhile, HMCS, which is also expected to have about 200 new recruits, has been allocated a total of E509 million, which excludes about E57.7 million which will be allocated towards their capital expenditure. 


The last recruitment exercise under the police service and Correctional Services was held in 2014 while the army had the most recent recruitment exercise in 2017.

However, if the recruitment takes place, it remains unknown where the budget will come from particularly under Correctional Services as their annual allocation has been reduced by E37 million when compared to the 2019 Appropriation Act.  

It should be noted though that although the minister made no statement of recruitments taking place, he addressed the issue of national security, public order and safety.

Rijkenberg said support to the nation’s security forces as the country pursued economic stability and growth was key to sustainable development of the State.
He said the budget therefore sought to strengthen public order management and State security systems which were important factors in ensuring that the country’s safety and security landscape was conducive for investment.

He said security had a direct impact on investment growth, social and human capital and protection of public institutions.
Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said they were aware of the budget that was presented by the minister of Finance yesterday and they were still to deliberate on it accordingly.

She said the national commissioner of police would then respond and express the feeling of the police service in a proper platform.


His Majesty’s Correctional Services PRO Gugulethu Dlamini said they were not aware of a recruitment exercise at the present moment.
At the time of compiling this report at 8:20pm, UEDF PRO Tengetile Khumalo had still not responded to questions sent to her.

On the other hand, Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini said there was money in government to cater for new entrants in the armed forced but still wanted the nation to believe otherwise.

He stated that this was different from what the nation had been made to believe in as far the country’s financial situation was portrayed to be.
According to Dlamini, the hiring of armed forces officers was meant to beef up security to silence the people because the State was allegedly aware that what it was planning to do would cause conflict between it and the nation.

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