Time to Abolish the Monarchy in Swaziland
Posted by terres on September 2, 2008
Mswati III of Swaziland
Mswati III (born on April 19, 1968) of Swaziland is the king of Swaziland, and head of the Swazi Royal Family. He succeeded his late father, Sobhuza II, in 1986.
He is one of many sons of King Sobhuza II (he had 70 wives and at the time of his death left over 1000 grandchildren).
- The king has 13 wives and 23 children.
- In 2005 he purchased a $500,000 luxury car.
- The King earns a high salary as Head of State, has investments within the country and elsewhere, owns an unspecified amount of shares in different companies within Swaziland.
- The King has received large amounts of criticism for his mishandling of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has devastated much of Swaziland. In the year 2000, he announced in a parliamentary debate that all HIV+ people should be “sterilized and branded”.
- In 2001, he tried to respond to the crisis by introducing a five year ban on sex in the country, to curb the tide of the growing pandemic.
- The king himself did not respect the ban; he took several new wives over the following five year period.
- The ban amounted in an increase in prostitution, decline in marriage, and an increase in abortions and infanticide.
- At a time when more than one third of the country was HIV+ and more than one third of the population was at risk of starvation, King Mswati attempted to use $45 million of the government’s money to buy a private jet. The amount was equivalent to the amount the government spent on health care for the whole country in a two-year period.
- There have also been accusations that the King holds his future brides against their will, and they have no real say in whether or not they will marry King Mswati.
- For a number of years now the international media and community have labeled the King of Swaziland an “absolute monarch”, and tended to regard him as a dictator.
- In January 2006, Mswati’s elder brother, Prince Mbuyisa Dlamini, was sent to jail for the rape of his nine-year-old niece, his sister’s grandchild.
- On August 21, 2008 Swazi women have marched through the capital to protest about a shopping trip taken by nine of the king’s 13 wives. [Source]
Rural Poverty Portal reported: Swaziland is ranked as a lower middle-income country. Yet income distribution within the country is extremely unequal. The wealthiest 10 per cent of the population account for nearly half of total total consumption and there is an ever-widening gap between urban and rural development. There are clear signs that poverty and unemployment are on the rise. About 84 per cent of the country’s poor people live in rural areas, where per capita income is about four times lower than in urban areas, and food consumption is two times lower. A large proportion of rural households practice subsistence agriculture. About 66 per cent of the population is unable to meet basic food needs, while 43 per cent live in chronic poverty. When drought hit Swaziland in 2004 and 2005 more than one quarter of the country’s population required emergency food aid. In 2007 Swaziland experienced one of its worst droughts which led to major food insecurity.
- Population: 1.14 million
- GNI per capita (US$), 2003: $1,350 [IFAD]
- Population living below the national poverty line (%), 1995: 40 [World Bank]
- Swaziland has one of the world’s highest Gini Coefficients with the top 10% of the population controlling about 50% of wealth, while the bottom 40% of the population controls less than 14% of the wealth. [UNDP]
- Poor economic growth, a rapidly expanding population and an increasingly uneven distribution of resources are factors that contribute to the growing number of Swaziland’s rural poor people. Other factors aggravating poverty are the rise in unemployment, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the fact that large parts of the country are vulnerable to drought and climate change. Environmental fragility is beginning to affect food security. Overgrazing has caused soil depletion, while drought and periodic floods have become persistent problems.
- Swaziland is experiencing a major increase in child-headed households as a result of HIV/AIDS pandemic. [Source]
Bare-breasted virgins compete for Swaziland king
King Mswati III (front) arrives at Ludzidzini, the royal palace in Swaziland, during the annual Reed Dance. The Reed Dance allows Mswati to choose a wife, if he wishes. Mswati currently has 13 wives. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SWAZILAND). Image may be subject to copyright.
LUDZIDZINI ROYAL VILLAGE, Swaziland (Reuters) – September 2, 2008
Tens of thousands of bare-breasted virgins competed for Swaziland King Mswati III’s eye on Monday in a traditional Reed Dance.
Walking through the dense crowds in a leopard skin loin cloth, Sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch was expected to choose his 14th wife.
Critics say Mswati, who has courted controversy for his lavish lifestyle while two thirds of his subjects live in poverty, sets a bad example by encouraging polygamy and teenage sex in a country where about 40 percent of adults live with HIV.
Some of the women did not seem to mind, hoping to escape from the southern African nation’s hardships for the easy life.
“I came here to dance. I wish the king would have chosen me because it’s nice at the king’s place. The wives live a nice life,” said Tenene Dlamini, 16, in a traditional brown skirt.
“Everything is done for them. They don’t work. They earn.”
The Reed Dance has been a big date on the Swaziland cultural calendar since Mswati began the ceremony in 1999.
But he may not be as relaxed this year among the throngs of young half-naked women.
Political groups seeking democratic reforms have become more active in a country where the opposition has been effectively banned since 1973 by royal decree.
They are critical of plans to hold next weekend’s celebrations of the king’s 40th birthday in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence from Britain.
Still, some of Swaziland’s women came to the Ludzidzini Royal Village to show their admiration for the monarch.
“I respect the king and I respect my culture,” said Nontobeko Sdidlamini, 16, carrying a shield made of animal skin and wearing an orange bracelet which read “Sex Can Wait”.
Some said they would not want to be part of a polygamous arrangement with the king and were taking part in the ceremony to prove their virginity. Others fear they lost out.
“My sister is the king’s tenth wife. I don’t think he can choose me because he has already chosen my sister,” said Zandisile Ntentesa, a 21-year-old prison employee.
The king, flanked by bodyguards with pistols and sticks, may face pressure from emboldened critics. But he can take comfort from the wealth which wins him tributes and songs at the reed ceremony.
Last month, Forbes magazine listed him as the 15th-richest monarch in the world. He was the only African on the list.
During the reed festivities, one of the king’s wives drove up in a fancy BMW . Policemen told people to look the other way. (Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Giles Elgood). Copyright author or respective news agency.