Friday, March 25, 2011

Swaziland's Cabinet agreed to 10 percent salary cuts, a week after a massive pro-democracy protest in the tiny nation's usually quiet capital.

The cuts, in addition to three-year salary freezes for Cabinet ministers, will save the government 240 million Lilangeni ($34.9 million) over the next three years, Swaziland's prime minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini said Thursday. He said the cuts are part of Swaziland's plan to resolve its budget crisis.

Swaziland's umbrella organization of non-governmental organizations applauded the move and called it historic.

The general secretary of Swaziland's teachers union, Mhlanga Muzi, said he welcomed the salary cuts, but said the government should also withdraw a proposal that increased legislators' wages by 4.5 percent at the end of 2010.

An anti-monarchy movement has gained momentum since the government proposed freezing civil service wages while King Mswati III gave himself a 24 percent increase in his budget allocation.

The proposed wage freezes brought 7,000 demonstrators to Swaziland's capital city of Mbabane, one of the largest protests ever seen in sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarchy. The crowd marched to the prime minister's office and was largely peaceful.

Talks on the civil service salary freezes are ongoing.


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