Mbabane: While civil servants and government are on each other’s throats over a Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA) of about 9.5 per cent, the latter is sitting with the formers’ E1.4 billion.
This is money which public sector employees, through their pension fund – Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) has loaned government through buying of over 14 government bonds in the past couple of years.
Investopedia defines a government bond as a debt security issued by a government to support her spending, generally with a promise to pay periodic interest payments called coupon payments and to repay the face value on the maturity date.
For the about 14 bonds, issued by government through the Central Bank of Eswatini, the embattled public sector employees’ pension fund has given government E1 406 863 144 to support its reckless spending. These figures are correct as at the end of March 2018.
The PSPF has got over 43 000 members who include government employees, employees of the National Treasury and employees of Eswatini Water Services Corporation. According to the pension fund latest publicised financial statements, the public sector employees’ over E1.4 billion would be fully paid in March 2028, when the last bond reaches its maturity. Others will mature on different dates (2020, 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2028).
For the period under review, a total of E1.142 million was received as contributions for 43 076 members. In the previous financial year, the fund had received E1 089 million from 40 496 members. The contributions increased by E52.8 million which translates to a 4.8 per cent increase.
Former Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) President and an executive member of the Swaziland Pensioners Association Sibongile Mazibuko decried the siphoning of the PSPF members’ money under the guise that it is being invested in government bonds. Mazibuko said the most disheartening thing is that the money is taken without being repaid by the different purported borrowers. She said the willy-nilly siphoning of the government workers money was made easy by the same government who crookedly converted placed the fund from Category B to a category A. “This was a clandestine move which government used so that she can be able to loot the fund with freedom,” she said. Mazibuko went on to tell Independent News that she has noted with a grave concern that their money is being taken from the owners for investments which doesn’t benefit them in any way. “Government is taking our own money and spend it recklessly in none-priority projects meanwhile the owners (government employees) are denied a meagre CoLA. This is not good at all because we, the owners of the fund are left worse off while some individuals are living large,” she said. Mazibuko added: “Numerous companies have drawn millions of Emalangeni from the fund to invest it somewhere for their own benefit; leaving the workers yawning.”
SNAT Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini also came hard on managers of the fund who keep on draining the fund in support of government careless spending. Dlamini said the PSPF is not a parastatal and must never be treated as such. “The money which is available to be loaned out to organisations must be paid back eventually. Those government departments that then fail to pay back the money must be exposed; those individuals responsible must be brought to book and those departments that then fail to pay back the money should be blacklisted from accessing any funding from wherever,” he said.
Dlamini said as SNAT, ‘we have never and we shall never support the looting of public resources to fund projects that are not at the top of the priority list of the Eswatini citizens at large.’
Dlamini further told Independent News that the problem with government was that ‘it is not prepared to listen to the citizens. “In this country we have a management problem and failure of the government could be disastrous for the country,” Dlamini said.
The observation that government is sitting with the public sector employees millions comes at the height of on-going serious misunderstanding between the public sector associations and government over CoLA. The CoLA impasse between government and the civil servants started last year in July when government offered to give them zero per cent increment. By then, government stated that it did not have the money to implement the CoLA, hence the zero per cent offer.
Last week some of the over 44 000 PSA members clashed with police during their strike action that was staged in the capital city – Mbabane on Wednesday, September 25. The public sector associations delivered six petitions to different ministries and government departments. They delivered petitions to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, Prime Minister Office, police headquarters and to the Municipal Council of Mbabane.
The Govt Bonds in which PSPF has invested
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG016 – 31/08/2018||50 259 712||50 259 712|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG023 – 30/11/2020||68 594 112||68 594 112|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG017 – 31/10/2020||93 269 345||93 269 345|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG018 – 31/01/2024||98 909 108||98 909 108|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG024 – 31/01/2024||80 937 658||80 937 658|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG025 – 31/01/2024||205 561 648||205 700 005|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG026 – 31/01/2024||100 785 618||100 764 383|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG027 – 31/01/2024||104 447 260||104 447 260|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG029 – 31/01/2024||100 891 781||100 891 781|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG030 – 30/01/ 2024||100 369 914||–|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG031 – 31/01/2025||99 828 509||–|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SG027A – 31/10/2026||105 798 348||–|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SGIB002 – 31/10/2025||100 999 528||–|
|Swaziland Government bonds||SGIB004 – 29/03/2028||96 210 603||–|
|TOTAL||1 406 863 144||903 773 364|
Source: PSPF Annual Report 2018