Monday, February 27, 2012


King Mswati III of Swaziland has once again refused to make any sacrifice to help get his Kingdom out of the economic mire.

Even though members of the government he handpicks have been forced to take 10 percent salary cuts and he wants all public servants, including teachers and hospital workers, to take a similar reduction, he is not prepared to take any cut himself.

Instead, we can reveal that unreported details from the kingdom’s national budget show King Mswati and his royal family will continue to receive E210 million a year from the Swazi taxpayer for their own use. This is the same amount they got in the financial year 2011/12 just ending, but is an increase of 23 percent over 2010/11 and a whopping 63 percent compared with what he took from his subjects in 2009/10.

Earlier this month (February 2012), the King’s Finance Minister Majozi Sithole in his budget speech praised politicians and royal committees ‘who have shown leadership’ by accepting a 10 percent cut in their salaries, saving government around E6 million in 2011/12. What he didn’t say was that King Mswati himself showed no leadership by taking a cut himself.

Sithole also praised ‘their Majesties for the solid support, keen interest, and dedication to the welfare of the nation they have displayed over the past year’. But, it is difficult to see this dedication in practice.

Sithole made no reference to the amount the King would receive from his subjects this year. And, even though the detail of the King’s budget has been available to the media in Swaziland for two weeks none have reported it (nor are they likely to).

While King Mswati refuses to cut his slice of the pie, Sithole gave candid statistics about the plight of King Mswati’s subjects.

‘Over 60 percent of the population lives in poverty. Nearly 66 percent don’t have a bank account. A quarter of all adults is estimated to have HIV and average life expectancy at birth is the lowest in the world. Over half of all youth are unemployed and a quarter of children who start primary school drop out before the end of Grade Seven,’ he said.

Later Sithole, revealed that Swaziland was so broke and poverty and hunger so widespread that he would have to seek a E264 million (US$37.8 million) loan for a food security project to grow more maize. In a typical year as many as one third of the Swazi population rely on international food aid to avoid malnutrition.

King Mswati’s selfishness will come as no surprise to observers. He has never done a salaried day’s work in his life, yet, according to Forbes, he has a personal fortune estimated at US$200 million. He also personally controls a trust fund set up by his father King Sobhuza II that is estimated to be worth US$10 billion.

He also ‘holds in trust for the nation’ the profits of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, an investment fund with extensive shares in a number of businesses, industries, property developments and tourism facilities in Swaziland. This money is supposed to be used for the benefit of the people but the vast majority is actually used for the King’s own personal use.

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