Desperately poor people in Swaziland have been camping outside one of King Mswati III’s offices over many months to ‘beg’ the King for work, according to local media.
They said they would rather die than return to poverty, the Times of Swaziland reported on Friday (29 July 2016).
The newspaper, the only independent daily in the kingdom where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘Many months have gone by as the group of unemployed citizens from different parts of the country camped daily outside the King’s Office at Nkhanini, hoping to be called in.’
In Swaziland nearly seven in ten of the 1.3 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day.
The Times reported, ‘However, on numerous occasions, the undeterred group would be told that there were currently no vacancies but would continue to sit and hope for a different answer.’
The newspaper reported the jobseekers spoke ‘on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation’.
They said they ‘would rather die outside the gates of Nkhanini than to return to poverty’.
The Times reported, ‘They said they were sending a plea to Their Majesties to find it befitting to issue a Royal Command for them to be given jobs as they were currently ravaged by poverty.’
It added, ‘They said they were determined to go to Their Majesties to beg for the jobs.’
They had heard rumours that there were vacancies for jobs such as cleaning staff, groundsmen and other general duties, which did not require special skills in order to carry out.
It is difficult to get accurate figures on unemployment in Swaziland, but the CIA World Fact Book put the rate at 40 percent in 2014.
While poverty continues to grip Swaziland it was revealed by an international news agency this week that King Mswati’s annual budget had been increased to US$69.8 million in the current financial year. The Anadolu Agency quoted official figures from the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s estimates for the years from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019 report. It said the royal budget was US$55.3 million in the last financial year, but this year it has been increased by US$13.9 million.
King Mswati has a reputation outside of Swaziland as a lavish spender. He has at least 13 palaces, a fleet of top-of-the-range- Mercedes and BMW cars. He is about to take delivery of a 375-seater private jet worth about US$14 million paid for by his Government.
In March 2016, it was revealed the King’s share of the just-reopened Lufafa Gold Mine at Hhelehhele in the Hhohho region of Swaziland could be worth up to US$149 million.
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