King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of impoverished Swaziland, wore a watch worth US$1.6 million to his 50th birthday party. This was in addition to a suit beaded with diamonds that weighed 6 kg.
Meanwhile, teachers are warning that children may starve because the Swazi Government cannot afford to pay to feed them. The charity Oxfam called Swaziland the most unequal country in the world in a report.
Days before his birthday King Mswati took delivery of his second private jet plane. This one, an A340-300 Airbus had a purchase price of US$13.2 million, but with VIP upgrades it reportedly cost about US$30 million.
A picture of the King with his watch and suit was published on Facebook by a group that monitors the spending of the Swazi Royal Family.
|King Mswati III with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and one of his 13 wives, Inkhosikati LaMotsa during at his 50th birthday party. Picture: Swazi Royal Leeches Lifestyle Facebook page|
The watch is a Jacobs & Co Grand Baguette timepiece. The Jacobs & Co website describes the watch as, ‘polished 18K white gold invisibly set with 360 baguette diamonds 13.20ct.; five crowns invisibly set with baguette diamonds 3.50ct.; five sapphire glasses with transparent anti-reflective treatment; circular satin-finished with hand engraving case back. Dial: Local time and four time zone dials for New York, L.A., Tokyo and Paris.’
The website puts the cost of the piece at US$1,620,000, which is about E21 million in local currency. This is more than the financial aid given to Swaziland each year by the European Union to pay for free primary school education.
The timepiece in detail with the $1,620,000 price tag. Picture: Jacob and Co website
In Swaziland seven in ten of King Mswati’s estimated 1.1 million subjects live in abject poverty on incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day. The King has 13 palaces and fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars.
Children in Swaziland have been told by teachers to prepare themselves for starvation as the government failed to deliver free food to schools over the past year. At the heart of the crisis is the Swazi Government’s inability to pay its suppliers. In the March 2018 Budget, Finance Minister Martin Dlamini said the government owed E3.1 billion and was trying to find a way to pay its bills.
As a result of unpaid bills, suppliers have stopped delivering food, and medicines. Electricity supplies to government offices, law courts, police stations, libraries, media houses, and border posts have been cut.
In 2017, the global charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world in a report called Starting With People, a human economy approach to inclusive growth in Africa that detailed the differences in countries between the top most earners and those at the bottom.
The Oxfam report stated the government, which is handpicked by King Mswati, ‘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 a report in May 2017, the World Food Program estimated 350,000 people of Swaziland’s population 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 thought to be OVCs.
It reported chronic malnutrition affected 26 percent of all children in Swaziland aged under five.
‘CHILDREN COULD SOON DIE OF HUNGER’
SWAZI GOVT FAILS ON POVERTY: OXFAM
KING WEARS SUIT BEADED WITH DIAMONDS