Friday, September 02, 2011

Does too much charity cause Swaziland to abdicate its responsibilities?

This is a question I often ask myself. The Swazi government has a responsibility to pay for the education of primary age pupils but it does not fully honour that pledge despite having it in its constitution. By foreign charities and organisations paying for the building of housing for teachers, payment of school fees, the supply of resources and so forth, it could be argued that the government will be less likely to fulfill its responsibilities. In 2009, government announced a few days before the start of the school year that it would charge school fees. In 2011, parents have to pay school fees after the third year of primary school. Orphans who are supposed to get their school fees paid regardless of the form they are in are often turned away on a whim by head teachers for 'not wearing the correct school uniform' when the true reason is that the money paid by government comes late and is much less than the school fees charged to those who can pay.

The Swaziland government has a habit of treating its citizens with contempt and failing to honour its responsibilities. Abuse of power is the norm for those in all positions of authority. To get a passport you need a personal interview with the passport office, as though it is not a right. Now the Swazi government is facing an economic crisis. Its currency is artificially propped up by being pegged at one to one against the South African rand. South Africa has had to step in and loan 2.4 billion rands because the IMF and other lenders will not help because of Swaziland's record of corruption and bad governance.