Sunday, August 23, 2009


Despite the effort of Swaziland’s ruling elite, news of King Mswati III’s extravagant spending is getting through to the kingdom.

Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed prime minister, threatened Swazi media with sanctions, including closure, if they revealed that five of the king’s wives were off on a global shopping spree, spending at least six million US dollars.

There has been no word about this in the Swazi media, but as I wrote yesterday the story is being reported worldwide.

Today (23 August 2009), the Sunday Times, a newspaper based in Johannesburg, South Africa, carries the story. The newspaper is freely available to buy in Swaziland. Yesterday another South African newspaper, the Saturday Star, also available in Swaziland, ran with the story.

Today, the Sunday Times reprints an article previously published by the Times, London. Headlined Mswati raids treasury for wives’ R50m the Sunday Times' report tells how King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has blown millions on a ‘secret shopping tour’ while his subjects live on less than R10 (one US dollar) a day.

Swaziland is heavily dependent on aid from the international community, and the UK has been drawn into the row because of the millions of pounds it reportedly gives to the kingdom.

The UK is said to pay a large part of an estimated R835-million in annual European Union aid, the newspaper reports.

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