Swaziland has just been named as the most unequal country in the world, in a report from the globally-renowned charity Oxfam.
The analysis was published to coincide with the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, attended by King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive growth in Africa detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the bottom.
The report stated that getting an accurate picture of inequality in developing countries where data collection is poor is extremely difficult as big earners do not fully report their earnings.
It reported that the Brookings Institute recalculated the Gini coefficient, which is a way that inequalities in wealth is measured, to take into account some of this previously-missing wealth. The new calculation put Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world.
The government, which is handpicked by King Mswati, had failed, the Oxfam report stated. It said it ‘failed to put measures in place to tackle inequality, with poor scores for social spending and progressive taxation, and a poor record on labour rights.’
The extent of poverty in Swaziland has been reported extensively outside of the kingdom. In its annual report on human rights in the kingdom, published in March 2017, Amnesty International said two thirds of the people in Swaziland continued to live below the poverty line and that around half the population said they often went without food and water, and over a third said that medical care was inadequate.
In Swaziland, nearly seven in 10 of the kingdom’s 1.3 million people have incomes of less than $US2 a day. Meanwhile, King Mswati III lives a lavish lifestyle, with at least 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce. He has a private jet airplane and is soon to get a second.
Amnesty reported that Swaziland’s human rights record was examined under the UN Universal Periodic Review process and a number of concerns were raised.
‘They included the need to address barriers in access to primary education; the reintegration of girls into the education system after giving birth; non-discriminatory access to health and education services irrespective of perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity; and the need for measures to be taken to combat and eradicate forced labour.’
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