Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III has ordered his Government to make budget cuts as his kingdom approaches financial meltdown.
Following the King’s speech on Friday (12 February 2016), the Swazi Observer Sunday, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported that Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, said ‘now that the King had spoken it was compulsory that the government implemented this’.
Dlamini was personally appointed Prime Minister by the King. He was never elected to Parliament by the people.
But, it remains to be seen whether King Mswati and his fourteen wives and vast Royal Family will also make cuts.
History suggests they will not.
The Royal budget amounts to about five percent of national spending. It increased by 25 percent between 2015 and 2016.
The Nation, an independent monthly magazine in Swaziland, reported in 2015 that for the year 2015/16, every budget of the royal household, except for the subvention to the King’s Office, had a ‘generous increase.’
The Nation reported, ‘The overall budget for King Mswati and the royal household took a significant increase of about 25 percent from E630 million [US$63 million at the then exchange rate] to E792 million. This reflects a staggering E162 million increase and accounts for just about five percent of the overall national budget. This has been the trend for some years.
‘Government increased the Royal Emoluments and Civil List by 21.9 percent from E279 million last year to E340 million. This reflect an increase E61 million.
‘The Swazi National Treasury, a royal unit responsible for national courts and advisory committees such as Liqoqo, the idle Border Restoration Committee and others, has its budget handsomely increased by E77 million from E200 million. This is a 38.9 percent increase.
‘Government further increased budget for construction of State houses by E13 million from E131 million to E144 million. This is an increase of about 10 percent. The state houses are mainly palaces for the royal household. This budget has become a common feature in the national budget.
‘The budget for link roads to royal residence has been increased by E5 million from E25 million last year to E30 million this year. This reflects a 20 percent increase. The status of the project has never been publicly disclosed. This is another budget that has become a common feature in the national budget.
‘Government cut down subvention to the King’s Office by E3.4 million from E5 million to E1.6 million. This is a decrease of about 68 percent. A budget of E252 million has been made for the link road to KMIII Airport and to Hlane.
‘At the opening of the KMIII airport last year (2014), government blew over E5 million on a bash for the royal project.’
The Nation magazine is edited by Bheki Makhubu, who along with writer and journalist Thulani Maseko, were released from jail on 30 June 2015 after serving 15 months for contempt of court after writing and publishing articles critical of the Swazi judiciary.
The magazine has a long-standing reputation for covering stories about people in power in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, who is the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Nation reported, ‘The budget for the royal household is not debated in parliament. Not because there is any law against it but simple because it is considered unSwazi and a taboo for commoners to discuss anything pertaining to the esteemed family.
‘Parliament is also in the dark as to how the funds are used as audited reports are only for the eyes of the King.’
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