In the week that it was revealed that Swaziland had paid E90 million (US$6.4m) as a deposit on a private jet for King Mswati III it was announced that 500,000 Swazi people – nearly half the population – would need food aid by December, but the kingdom cannot afford to pay for it.
Swaziland has been under a national emergency since February 2016 because of drought. The kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, appealed to the international community for financial aid. Meanwhile, the King who has a reputation for his personal lavish lifestyle spent millions hosting the Southern African Development Community summit in August. The King is chair of SADC this year.
On Friday (16 September 2016), media in Swaziland reported the kingdom’s National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) Chief Executive Officer Russell Dlamini saying an estimated 500,000 people would need food assistance by December 2016.
Dlamini said that donor agencies had promised aid, but only about a quarter of it had been received.
The Swazi Observer newspaper reported that Dlamini said more than E97 million had been pledged, but only E24 million had been received.
The Times of Swaziland reported Dlamini saying all food aid would cease by April 2017 unless something was done.
Newspapers also reported that members of the Swazi parliament were questioning what had happened to the E90 million that had been paid as deposit for the King’s private jet. No jet has jet been delivered. The jet is expected to cost a total of E207 million.
The media in Swaziland which often censor themselves when reporting about the King made no connection between the E90 million being spent so far on the jet and the nearly similar amount needed for food aid.
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