Wednesday, April 4, 2012


King Mswati III of Swaziland’s demand that his impoverished subjects supply him with cattle to slaughter for his birthday party has been met with anger and scorn.

Social network sites are buzzing with accusations that the king, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and among the 15 wealthiest royals in the world, should pay for his own party. The king is estimated to have a personal fortune of US$200 million while seven in ten of his subjects earn less than US$2 per day.

Meanwhile, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a political party that like all others is banned in Swaziland, called for the celebrations to be cancelled. ‘We call for the celebrations to be cancelled and the resources channelled to the provision of scholarships for deprived students,’ PUDEMO spokesperson Zakhele Mabuza said.

The party to be held in the Shiselweni region is to celebrate the king’s 44th birthday.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network in a statement also called for the party to be cancelled. It said, ‘Shiselweni is the country’s poorest region, the same area where the country’s poorest citizens live. Areas like Lavumisa are so poverty stricken that its residents have at times been reported to be living on poisonous shrubs. Despite this abject poverty in the region, the king has insensitively decided to throw a lavish birthday party and rub his stolen riches in the people’s poverty stricken faces.’

Meanwhile, Percy Simelane, spokesperson for the Swazi Government, whose members are handpicked by King Mswati, denied to local media that the king had instructed his subjects to give him cattle.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported him saying people were being asked to voluntarily give to the king.

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