As King Mswati III, Swaziland’s absolute monarch, calls for public spending cuts to save his kingdom’s damaged economy, we are reminded of a similar national crisis in 2011.
That year the King forced spending cuts in Government departments of up to 20 percent; but at the same time he awarded himself and the Royal Family a budget increase of 23 percent from public funds.
Then, as now, Swaziland was affected by cuts in income from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Successive governments that are not elected by the people but chosen by the King have failed to manage Swaziland’s economy. The Swazi Government relies heavily on SACU income and when it falls, as this year, it has little alternative income.
In his speech opening Parliament on Friday (12 February 2016), King Mswati blamed falling SACU revenues for the crisis and called on everybody to help ensure the economy improved.
In 2011, when budgets controlled by the Swaziland Government were slashed by 20 percent King Mswati III got 23 percent more from the Swazi people for the upkeep of himself and his Royal Family.
This was a 63 percent increase when compared with what he took from his subjects two years previously in in 2009/2010.
The information was contained in the national budget but not announced publicly.
In 2011/2012 the King and his family got E210 million (US$30 million at the then exchange rate). That was E40 million more than he got in 2010/2011, when he got E170 million. And E80 million more than the E129.5 million he got in 2009/2010.
At the time Majozi Sithole, the then Swazi Finance Minister, in his budget speech praised, ‘their Majesties for their continued support, wisdom, guidance and their insight into the emerging trends brought about by the global economic meltdown. As the socio-economic challenges continue to face the country, their Majesties concern and involvement in joining government to tackle these problems deserves acknowledgement and appreciation.’
WILL SWAZI KING CUT HIS SPENDING?