Prince Logcogco, the chair of Liqoqo, the shady, but powerful, group that advises King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, says the problem of HIV in Swaziland is exaggerated and there is an international conspiracy by drug companies to make sure a cure is never found.
The remarks by Prince Logcogco (also known as Prince Logcogco Mangaliso) were made in an interview with the Times of Swaziland, the only independent newspaper in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, Logcogco’s cousin.
Prince Logcogco boasted of his many sexual conquests. He said he did not live his life wondering how he would die but rather lived each day as it came, avoiding being reckless though.
‘I am not scared of HIV,’ he said.
Prince Logcogco is in the news this week because of a row he is having over custody of a child he fathered with a teenage girl. As I reported yesterday (17 August 2010) it seems he had sex with the teenager when she was under the age of consent and as such he has broken the law in Swaziland and, according to the Girls’ and Women’s Protection Act could face 24 lashes and a jail term. Media in Swaziland have so far ignored this aspect of his custody dispute.
He told the newspaper, as long as one had a body with all the senses and hormones, it was difficult to be pure and not have casual sex.
He said he would never encourage people to have one sexual partner or not to have concurrent sexual partners because that would be devoid of the reality on the ground.
He said the reality was that Swazis were having sexual intercourse with different people amid the ‘exaggerated’ threats of HIV.
He said the pharmaceutical industry was using the scourge of HIV to amass wealth.
‘This industry is making a lot of money and if there was no HIV there would be a lot of people who would lose business. What is now happening is that they are making so much exaggeration about HIV/AIDS so that they can keep their businesses afloat.’
In ordinary circumstances, one wouldn’t take much notice of someone as ignorant of the reality of HIV as Prince Logcogco, but his social status in the kingdom, as a ‘senior’ prince and also as chair of Liqoqo, gives him enormous influence in Swaziland.
As is the case of so many commentators who use the Swazi media to peddle their prejudices, Prince Logcogco chooses to ignore the facts if they allow him to justify his own despicable behaviour.
Here are the statistics on AIDS in Swaziland, courtesy of James Hall, ‘The Guinness Book of the Decade, covering 2000 to 2010, lists Swaziland with the highest death rate in world, 22,1 deaths per 1000 people per annum, for the period 2005 to 2010.
‘The popular reference work also cites Swaziland has having the highest rate of death from AIDS: 145 5 persons per 100 000 annually.
‘At an event to mark World Population Day last week, Khanya Mabuza, Deputy Director of NERCHA, said the estimated figures on the rate of deaths related to AIDS might be even higher than officially reported. NERCHA estimates 7 862 deaths in 2008 out of a population of around one million, and 7123 deaths in 2009.'