Eswatini finance minister Neal Rijkenberg didn’t mince his words when he delivered his maiden budget late last month. “Eswatini is facing an unprecedented economic crisis,” he told a packed parliament. Indeed, the picture isn’t pretty. Preliminary estimates indicate that the economy, which is dominated by sugar, timber and agriculture, shrank by 0.4% in 2018. There was also a net decline in foreign direct investment — a years-long trend. Rijkenberg is arguably the best person to turn things around. The entrepreneur, appointed by King Mswati III in November, has grown Montigny – the business he founded with his brother in 1997 – into the largest privately held timber company in Southern Africa, with annual revenue above R1bn. He hopes the 22.97-billion emalangeni (about R23bn) 2019/2020 budget will be the first step towards “wealth creation and distribution, the promotion of a free-market economy and ensuring we have the appropriate balance between government and the private sector”....

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