Ministry of Foreign Affairs secures E2.8 million grant for relief and rehabilitation

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pholile Shakantu. Picture: Tribe Studios

By Ncaba Ntshakala

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has successfully secured a generous grant of USD$150 000 (equivalent to E2 845 297 53) from the African Union Commission.

This significant financial aid was earmarked for relief and rehabilitation efforts aimed at mitigating the widespread effects of the cyclone, which inflicted severe damage on critical infrastructure across the affected regions.

The grant, facilitated through the Permanent Mission in Addis Ababa, highlighted the commitment of both the African Union Commission and the Eswatini government to extend a helping hand to communities within the Kingdom grappling with the aftermath of natural disasters.

Cyclone Eloise

Tropical Cyclone Eloise, a powerful storm that made landfall in 2021, left a trail of destruction in its wake, severely impacting schools, residential buildings, road infrastructure, and other vital facilities.

Upon receipt of the funds, the Ministry acted swiftly, channelling the grant through the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office and depositing it into the dedicated account established for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Damaged Infrastructure.

This ensured that the allocated funds were utilised efficiently and transparently for their intended purpose, enabling targeted interventions to address the urgent needs of affected communities.

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The grant represents a significant injection of resources into cyclone-affected areas, providing much-needed support for ongoing relief efforts and long-term rehabilitation initiatives. From repairing damaged infrastructure to providing essential services and support to affected households, the funds will play a crucial role in facilitating the recovery and rebuilding process.

In addition to addressing immediate humanitarian needs, the grant emphasises the importance of international solidarity and cooperation in responding to natural disasters and supporting vulnerable communities in times of crisis.

African Union Commission

The African Union Commission (AUC) plays a critical role in spearheading Africa’s development agenda. As the secretariat of the African Union, the AUC implements the decisions of the Assembly and the Executive Council, the key decision-making organs of the organisation.

It also drafts policy proposals, manages programs, and promotes peace and security across the continent.

According to the Ministry, the successful securing of such grants highlights the importance of proactive diplomacy and strategic engagement in mobilising support for disaster relief and strengthening development in Eswatini communities.

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When queried about the adequacy of the budget allocated for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Minister Pholile Shakantu candidly addressed the issue, revealing that the allocated budget falls short of the Ministry’s proposed requirements.

Minister Shakantu disclosed that the Ministry had initially proposed a total budget of E840 102 779, comprising E755 362 779 for recurrent expenses and E84 740 000 for capital projects. However, due to constraints imposed by the PBC ceilings and the prevailing fiscal situation within the government, the Ministry was allocated a reduced budget of E595 709 833. Of this allocation, only E73 709 833 was earmarked for recurrent expenses, leaving a mere E22 000 000 for capital projects.

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