Nathan Kirsh, A South African born entrepreneur who has major investments in Swaziland, says President Obama’s stringency on labor requirements may leave hundreds of thousands of citizens in the country with nothing to eat, according to Africa trade. Funds from the African Growth and Opportunity Act were used to build a textile factory that employs 20, 000 workers, each of whom supports 10 people. However President Obama has placed Swaziland under review for allegedly violating 5 requirements that are meant to guarantee workers rights. Kirsh said that two of the five have been fulfilled, and there has been no timetable promised by the U.S. government for a review. Rodney Ford, spokesman for African affairs at the U.S. state department, has confirmed there is no set date for the announcement of the results.
“Bill Clinton initiated AGOA, George Bush nurtured it, and Obama is destroying it.” said Kirsh, who added, “the other three (requirements) which need tripartite agreement are in process.”
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Swaziland has a population of 1 million and is under the absolute rule of King Mswati III, who forbids political parties. Kirsh, who founded a corn milling and malt business in the country in 1958, has been trying to work with the government to permit labor unions. Kirsh, who was raised by a Jewish family in South Africa, has Swazi citizenship, won a golf tournament there, and walked with the Swaziland team in the 2012 Olympic Games. The Congress of South African trade unions is supportive of the U.S. pressure to improve workers’ rights, since it could bring democratic reforms to Swaziland.