Monday, January 5, 2009


Swaziland’s King Mswati III is the fifth youngest national leader in the world, according to a report just released.

The Times Sunday reported yesterday (4 January 2009) that King Mswati, aged 40, was among a list released by what the newspaper called an ‘internationally renowned’ group in the US called Foreign Policy.

I assume the Times Sunday decided to call the group ‘internationally renowned’ because this would add an extra bit of gloss to the news.

King Mswati, who assumed power at the age of 18, isn’t included in the list on merit. He was never elected to the position and there is no way of getting rid of him if his subjects don’t like the way he rules. He is, as we know, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa and he rules with an iron fist as his current war against his own people testifies.

I’m not sure why the Times Sunday chose to publicise the Foreign Policy report but it has been dishonest with its readers. Foreign Policy does not praise the king. In its report it says, ‘Mswati was crowned king a mere six days after his 18th birthday, and the country has been a train wreck ever since.’

It goes on to say, ‘An estimated 26 percent of Swazis between ages 15 and 49 are HIV positive, one of the highest rates in the world. Mswati’s brilliant solution: a sex ban. In 2001, he instated the uncwasho rite, which put a five-year ban on sex for females under 18. The move proved unpopular, especially after Mswati - who at last count had 13 wives and at least 23 children - married a 17-year-old. The ban was lifted a year early.’

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