King Mswati III of Swaziland: a Choice between Welfare of Citizens and Wives’ Holiday

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It is a well-known fact that King Mswati III of Swaziland does not hate women ““ whether due to the tradition expectations or personal wishes. He is equally not allergic to luxurious life. However, what is less obvious is whether the King’s love for his wives and extravagant life comes before the welfare of his suffering subjects.

In keeping with his extravagance lifestyle, recently, King Mswati III allegedly spent nearly 16 million rand (approximately £850,000) to send his wives and other cronies of more than 100 people on holiday to Florida, USA. Of course, the bill for the holiday is not paid from the King’s fat pocket. It is paid by the same miserably poor Swazis, who look up to their king to survive. It is not the first time that King Mswati III spent millions on a holiday or posh cars. Nor has he stopped organising a party to celebrate incwala festival or the famous Reed dance aimed at adding another wife to the King’s wife-arsenal. No! What made the recent spending raise eyebrows in different quarters is the fact that the Swaziland, which has recently declared a state of emergency and appealed for international support due to drought in the kingdom, which has affected at least 20% of the population, is in an acute need for financial help. At least 350,000 of its 1.2 million population need urgent assistance. Worse still, the said £850,000 spent on holiday in the USA is equivalent to the same amount the USA government donates yearly to the Swaziland to enable it to cope with hunger and other humanitarian catastrophes. Economically speaking, spending in Florida, USA, the same amount the USA donates to Swaziland, balances the USA financial account positively. What a smart economics! The question is: What would the USA government be thinking, hearing that the “poor“ Kingdom it sets out to help, has spent 16 million rand to send trailer loads of King’s holiday entourage to the States? Your guess is as good as mine.

Asked why he strongly believed the holiday should not be cancelled for the sake of solidarity for the victims of drought and sound austerity measure, King Mswati III lectured like a professional accountant that the cancellation of the holiday would result in “unnecessary loss of money” because the holiday “has been planned.” That was a sound economic management, wasn’t it? That leaves the Western donors (and the big brother South Africa, which has repeatedly bailed the extravagant Swaziland from its financial predicaments) with few options than to accept the reality that the Swazi problems are far from over. If the 16 million rand holiday cannot be cancelled because it “has been planned,” one wonders why more new palaces, luxurious cars, holidays, parties and other unnecessary expenses can be avoided, having in mind that these expenditures may have been planned already. Nor would it surprise King Mswati III to hear from the Western donors, struggling to help his country, Swaziland to feed its citizens albeit, at the expense of Western taxpayers’sweat, that money meant for Swaziland “has been planned” for something else.

Either way, the poor vulnerable Swazis or the Western taxpayers are paying the price for one’s extravagance lifestyle and unsound economic management.