It would take 70 percent of people in Swaziland more than 61 years to earn the price of the new custom-built car Princess Sikhanyiso, the eldest daughter of King Mswati III, took delivery of this month (December 2014).
Sikhanyiso took possession of a customised Kia Soul SUV at a cost of E450,000 (US$45,000). Newspapers in South Africa reported the car would usually cost E350,000 but the Princess demanded extras, including passenger video screens as part of an entertainment centre with a premium sound system.
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and 70 percent of his subjects have incomes of less than $US2 a day. Thousands of people in the Swazi textile industry are about to lose their jobs because the United States has withdrawn favourable trade benefits under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) because of Swaziland’s poor record on workers’ and political rights.
In November 2014 a United Nations report said Swaziland was the seventh hungriest country in the world. A total of 35.8 of Swaziland’s 1.3 million population are undernourished, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said.
The Independent Group of newspapers in South Africa reported Princess Sikhanyiso took possession of the car in a ceremony covered by both the kingdom’s daily newspapers.
The Independent reported, ‘At a ceremonial presentation of the car at a Kia dealership in Mbabane, the Minister of Transportation, who was appointed by Mswati, presided over the lifting of a red veil draped over the princess’s vehicle.
‘The princess, attended by security personnel wearing traditional warrior attire, expressed her delight at the car.’
King Mswati and his Royal Family have been criticised for years outside of Swaziland for their lavish spending. The King himself has a fleet of Mercedes and BMW cars. In 2009 it was revealed he bought up to 20 Mercedes Benz S600 Pullman Guards at a cost estimated to be US$250,000 each.
The cars can resist an attack with small arms projectiles, a grenade or other explosive. One cars’ website described the Pullman Guard as ‘The car of choice for up-and-coming dictators.’
In April 2013, The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a banned political party in Swaziland, reported 32 BMW cars had been delivered to King Mswati ahead of his 45th birthday celebrations.
The previous year the King was embroiled in a row when he took delivery of a private jet plane, worth an estimated US$46 million.
The King claimed that the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 twin-engine jet was a gift from an admirer, but declined to say who it was. This led to speculation that the jet had been purchased out of public funds.
DISBELIEF OVER SWAZI KING’S NEW JET
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