King Mswati is by far the only remaining absolute monarch in Africa and certainly the only royal to admit to bankrupting his country. But how rich is the “Kingdom” of Swaziland, and is the style of governance any good to the Swazi people? Figures first! According to 2010 figures, the overspending king was worth about $100 M in investments and land in a country where the GDP is a mere $4.1 M. That may seem a big figure for a king in an impoverished country but it certainly does not compare to the $18 billion fortune for King Fahad of Saudi Arabia, or the $15 billion of Sheikh Khalifa of Abu Dhabi. Mind you, the GDPs of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are about $580 and $365 billion (2010), respectively. That should give you a very good picture of just how poor the overspending Mswati is.
But what does Mswati spend on? The very latest of Mswati’s luxurious spending is a $500,000 DaimlerChrysler’s Maybach 62 with all possible luxury “extras”, including a fridge and DVD player. A fridge…really! I definitely won’t need a fridge in my car! Just in January this year, international donor agency had to condemn the Swazi government’s plan to spend $14 M on building luxury palaces for 11 of Mswati’s wives. It does not stop there. Just a year ago, the Swazi royal spenders made international headlines when King Mswati’s aunts complained about new luxury houses built for them, considering them sub-standard for the many “royal” widows of late King Sobhuza. The widows and Swazi princes also complained that the BMW luxury sedans the government has purchased for them at taxpayer’s expense were “not enough.” The list goes on and on…. I wonder how the Swazi king has the guts to spend that much on a luxury car when two thirds of the population is living on less than one US dollar a day. What justification do you give to your nation whose children are dying of malnutrition following years of droughts. What justification do you give to for your nation, which at 40 %, is rated as having the highest HIV infection rate?
Mswati needs to think beyond his bed on which he lies for the night. To be a king does not mean to live lavishly while your people are dying of hunger, diseases, or malnutrition. As it turns out, monarchy is not for Botswana. Certainly, it’s not for Africa!
Democracy will no doubt bring some sanity to this nation.