By Sifiso Sibandze
Regarding the trimming of Ministries, Eswatini would be following in the footsteps of the recently elected Lesotho Prime Minister Sam Matekane.
Matekane trimmed the Cabinet to only 15 ministers, including the Prime Minister and his deputy.
The ministries which were merged were those which had similar policies. Interestingly, the downsizing of the ministries included those ministries that are now headed by the Prime Minister and his deputy.
Read More: Government mulls reducing ministries
The outgoing government had 26 ministers in all. A government minister earns a gross salary of around E39 000 a month. With the trimming down to 15, the government will save as much as E570 000 per month. And over the year E6.8 million could be saved.
With a population of over 2.1 million and with 15 ministries that will facilitate the day-to-day economic activities and progress of the country, it will also make very good economic sense for Eswatini with a population of about 1.1 million to emulate Lesotho and trim the ministries from 20 to at least 16.
When carefully looking at Eswatini’s ministries, it becomes clear that there are some ministries with similar policies which can be merged. Eight ministries could be merged to form four.
These are the Ministry of Finance which could be combined with that Economic Planning and Development (Ministry of Finance and Economic Development) the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy merged with the Ministry of Environmental Affairs but exclude the tourism department and take it to the Ministry of Sports (Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Affairs) Culture and Youth Affairs, merge the Ministry of Public Service with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Security) and merge the Ministry of Public Works and transport with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (Ministry Infrastructure Development, Housing and Urban Development).
Merging these ministries could reduce the number of Cabinet from 20 to 16. Each minister earns a gross salary of about E500 000 per year plus allowances, translating to E2.5 million in five years.
Therefore, the government could save over E10 million in five years. Each minister has about four people employed directly under him or her, including a personal assistant (PA), a driver, a gardener, and a housekeeper. All these people earn their salaries from the government payroll.
This means more expenses could be cut off if the cabinet is trimmed, enabling the government to spend the money on developmental projects. Comparatively, Eswatini is one of the countries in Africa with a small population but has a somewhat bloated Cabinet. Botswana has a population (2.6 million) larger than that of Eswatini but it has 17 ministries.