Sunday, September 4, 2011


The US Embassy in Swaziland says King Mswati III is ‘not intellectually well developed’ and ‘is not a reader’. It also calls him ‘imbalanced’.

The comments about the Swazi king came from Earl Irvine, the US Ambassador to Swaziland, in February 2010.

In a confidential cable to Washington released by Wikileaks, Irvine says King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has a ‘lack of wisdom’.

Quoting an informant, Irvine writes the king is ‘not a reader, and will not review documents left for him. [The informant] called the king “not intellectually well-developed,” and contrasted the current sovereign's scant educational background with Sobhuza II, who was educated at Lovedale College in South Africa alongside future leaders of South Africa's African National Congress (ANC).

‘Essentially a bastard outsider to the royal family, King Mswati III was plucked from relative obscurity when members of the royal family could not come to an agreement on a successor to King Sobhuza II.

‘After Mswati III was selected to be the next king, a posthumous marriage of Sobhuza II to Ntombi [the Queen Mother] was quickly arranged, according to our interlocutor.’

Irvine writes, ‘Unlike in his early years, the king now identifies and pushes specific projects, and will look to replace ministers or employees who are unable to provide progress on those projects.’

Irvine quotes his informant calling King Mswati ‘imbalanced’. He gives an anecdote to illustrate this. ‘The king, [the informant] said, invited about forty officials and advisors to a basement in one of his palaces, where they all sat on the floor to attend to him. King Mswati III turned up the heater, which warmed the floor first, until the temperature in the room reached about 40 degrees Celsius, and told inconsequential stories to those gathered while they sweated, merely to show them he was in power.’

To read the full Wikileaks cable, click here.

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