Monday, September 18, 2017


Some people in Swaziland are so hungry they willingly eat dog food, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.

It came after residents looted a van full of dog food that overturned on the Manzini – Mbabane highway.

It was not an isolated incident, Ackel Zwane, an opinion columnist in the Swazi Observer wrote on Friday (15 September 2017). He wrote, ‘The reasons are simple because people are so poor and desperate they will consume anything that would not kill them.’

Zwane gave an insight into how hungry people in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch are. Seven in ten of his 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

He wrote that people pretend ‘to be collecting bones or food remains for their dogs back home when in fact that is a lie, they were collecting the leftovers to feed their loved ones’.

Zwane who writes for a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati wrote, ‘This practice is even common in cocktails, garden parties or state banquets where top government officials fill the boot and vans of their vehicles with leftover food all in the guise that they are taking them to their dogs.’

Many people attend cultural events in Swaziland because free food is on offer, he wrote.

‘Just watch the stampede each time the governor of Ludzidzini Royal Residence announces that the King invites the nation for a meal especially during national events, it is as if people were having their only meal to last a lifetime.’

Hunger is widespread in Swaziland. In a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people in Swaziland were in need of food assistance. WFP helped 65,473 of them. It said it was regularly feeding 52,000 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) aged under eight years at neighbourhood care points. About 45 percent of all children in Swaziland are thought to be OVCs.
It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five. 

Meanwhile, the King lives a lavish lifestyle. At his 49th birthday party in April 2017, media in Swaziland reported that it took three months to prepare his cake.

The Times of Swaziland the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where reporting about the King is severely restricted, said at the time, ‘All eyes were on the cake that was beautifully displayed in the front during the garden party at His Majesty’s birthday celebration. Most people were asking themselves how much time it took the bakers to prepare the cake. The company has always made it a point that it prepares a beautiful cake every year for His Majesty’s birthday celebrations.’

The Swazi Observer said, ‘The purple and cream white cake was set on a gold stand that connected the 49 pieces to make it one and the artistic look was finished off with a gold lion shaped piece.’
King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle with at least 13 palaces, a fleet of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMW cars. He is soon to take delivery of a second private jet. 

The people of Swaziland have been left hungry for many years and the problem seems to be getting worse.

In October 2014, the Office of the Swaziland Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini reported that 223,249 people were estimated to require interventions aimed at maintaining their livelihood and at least 67,592 of the Swazi population required immediate food assistance. This was contained in a report from the kingdom’s Vulnerability Assessment Committee.

Earlier in 2014, the Global Hunger Index report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) revealed the proportion of people who were undernourished more than doubled in Swaziland since 2004-2006 and in 2011-2013 was 35.8 percent of the kingdom’s population or about 455,000 people.

IFPRI reported that since 1990, life expectancy in Swaziland fell by ten years, amounting to only 49 years in 2012.

IFPRI defines undernourishment as an inadequate intake of food - in terms of either quantity or quality.

The reports underscore numerous previous surveys demonstrating the state of hunger in the kingdom.
In 2012, three separate reports from the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies all concluded the Swazi Government was largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing number of Swazis who had to skip meals.

The reports listed low growth levels, government wastefulness and corruption, and lack of democracy and accountability as some of the main reasons for the economic downturn that led to an increasing number of hungry Swazis.

Poverty is so grinding in Swaziland that some people, close to starvation, are forced to eat cow dung in order to fill their stomachs before they can take ARV drugs to treat their HIV status.  In 2011, newspapers in Swaziland reported the case of a woman who was forced to take this drastic action. Once the news went global, supporters of King Mswati denounced the report as lies. 

In July 2012, Nkululeko Mbhamali, Member of Parliament for Matsanjeni North, said people in the Swaziland lowveld area had died of hunger at Tikhuba.

See also







No comments: