Annual Forum Papers

Swaziland: In the Pursuit of Economic Liberalization and Growth. How Poverty is Reproduced at the Micro-level

  • Year: 2004
  • Author(s): Gabriel Tati
  • Countries and Regions: Swaziland

Why is poverty so pervasive in Swaziland despite substantial economic growth achieved through extreme economic openness over several years? Is poverty alleviation in Swaziland a more reachable goal than was in the past, as this country strives to restore rapid economic growth through AGOA facilitating greater insertion into the global commodity market chains? How have macroeconomic developments impacted on poverty within the labour markets, cross-border and domestic alike, and what measures can be taken to improve competitiveness in the labour market? The paper explores these issues by looking into some prominent structures of the labour market regimes in Swaziland from both the cross-border and domestic perspectives. Understanding the relationships between trade, labour market regimes and poverty reproduction is critical for this country, as insufficient analytical attention has been paid on what is happening at their interface. Economic growth has been exceptional over the past years, and the country strives to attract more investors to rip the benefits of African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). Yet efforts to reduce the high incidence of poverty affecting most Swazis remain very disappointing, and elusive as inequality of all forms is substantially in rise. The heavy concern put on opening up the national economy to foreign investors has tended to obscure the realities lived on the ground by most of those engaged in making this liberalisation possible: the ordinary Swazis workers. Public considerations at the macroeconomic level seem to have been disconnected from those at the micro-level, as lived by the actors engaged in the cross-border and domestic labour forces.