King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, told his subjects that the drought presently crippling southern Africa was a test from God.
He added that it was only because people believed in the Christian God that rain had recently fallen in Swaziland.
The drought has crippled Swaziland and according to statistics from United Nations Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF) about 350,000 of Swaziland’s 1.2 million population have been affected by drought and of these 189,000 are children. UNICEF stated 308,059 people were ‘food insecure’ and 8,460 children aged under 59 months suffered ‘acute malnutrition’.
Despite the King’s lavish personal spending, including putting down a deposit of US$7.3m for a private jet plane, Swaziland was unable to fund drought relief.
In February 2016, the Swazi Government declared a national emergency and called on international agencies to donate E248 million (US$16 million) over the coming two months. In total, government would need about E2 billion to address the situation over five years, it was reported.
The national emergency was declared only weeks after King Mswati III told his subjects the drought in his kingdom was over. He had this when his regiments took part in the Incwala ceremony. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on 1 January 2016 that the King had ‘pronounced an end to the drought situation’.
It reported, ‘The King said the drought situation changed as soon as the water party (bemanti) was commissioned to fetch water in the Indian Ocean in Mozambique.
The newspaper added, ‘As he pronounced an end to the drought situation, the King predicted a bumper harvest and urged all Swazis to go and work hard in their fields.’
Scientists agree that the drought in Swaziland and across southern Africa is the effect of El Niño, a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns.
In his latest sermon, King Mswati once again declared the drought over.
The Sunday Observer, (29 January 2017) a companion to the Swazi Observer, reported, ‘His Majesty said he was proud because it turned out that Swazis really believed in God as they were now experiencing tremendous amounts of rain.’
The newspaper said the King told ‘thousands of Christians’ assembled at the Mandvulo Grand Hall, ‘God tests your faith as a Christian by setting challenges and it is through these that as a Christian you must really pray and trust in Him to come through for you, because He is a faithful God.’
The Sunday Observer added, ‘The king then declared that 2017 will be a year on bumper harvest for Swazis and prosperity in all spheres of life. “It will be a year of great harvest, prosperity and everyone will achieve everything they wish for. Pay no regard to your employment status as this is the year you all achieve everything,” he prophesied.’
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