It's King Mswati's time to eat - again

Swaziland is in the midst of such a severe financial crisis that King Mswati III called on all Swazis to do what they can to help the nation. Everywhere you look belts are being tightened. For starters, MPs are facing a 10% salary cut. The elderly are digesting 3 million dollars worth of cuts to their already meagre state assistance. And there better not be any natural disasters this year as the National Disaster Management Agency has had its budget halved.

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

March 13th, 2012

Swaziland is in the midst of such a severe financial crisis that King Mswati III called on all Swazis to do what they can to help the nation. Everywhere you look belts are being tightened. For starters, MPs are facing a 10% salary cut. The elderly are digesting 3 million dollars worth of cuts to their already meagre state assistance. And there better not be any natural disasters this year as the National Disaster Management Agency has had its budget halved.

But for the king, the party - at Swaziland's expense - goes on and on. The recent budget provided him with a whopping US$60 million for the upkeep of his family and royal infrastructure. His office also got a nice financial boost, which is particularly bizarre considering that it oversees hundreds of millions of dollars in the secretive royal trust fund and business arm Tibiyo - funds that are not taxed and don't benefit ordinary Swazis.

It demonstrates once again how wedded Mswati is to the concept of absolute monarchy. Swaziland belongs to him. The people are not citizens but subjects. Everything in the country is there for him to feast on. It's like the bad old days of Royal Absolutism in France under all those be-wigged kings called Louis - except that none of Mswati's wives would ever say 'let them eat cake'. Why would they? As their husband has made clear, it is the duty of Swazis to sacrifice their health and welfare by scraping by on maizemeal so that their King and Queens can eat to their hearts' content.

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