Tax Break

Can tax on witch-doctors cure Swaziland’s fiscal pain?

December 10, 2012

The King of Swaziland King Mswati III arrives at Westminster Abbey for the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton. REUTERS/Toby Melville

While the inhabitants of Capitol Hill and the White House argue over tax breaks for the wealthy, a member of Swaziland’s parliament has struck upon a potential partial solution to the cash crisis in Africa’s last monarchy: hike taxes on witch-doctors.

According to a Reuters report,  the mediums, known as sangomas in the landlocked southern African nation, pay an annual 10 emalangeni ($1.15) license fee, but MP Majahodvwa Khumalo said they had jacked up their fees fourfold in the last few years and should pay more.

“A majority of our people consult traditional healers but the money they pay to government falls far too short of the money they make,” he told parliament.

Swaziland’s budget deficit, struggling with what has officially been determined to be the continent’s most bloated bureaucracy,  hit 15 percent of its annual economic output in 2010.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has declined to launch a bailout, according to the report, because of reluctance by King Mswati III, who has at least a dozen wives and a personal fortune estimated at $200 million, to cut royal or military spending.


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