While King Mswati III of Swaziland has 13 palaces, nearly one in four of his subjects live in ‘stick and mud’ houses.
And another 7 percent of Swazi people live in houses made of mud bricks.
Nobody who has watched the way King Mswati spends the money of the Swazi people lavishly on himself will be surprised by these figures.
Even the keenest observers of the king’s lifestyle find it difficult to keep up with his luxury purchases. In recent years he has purchased 20 Mercedes cars and a Rolls Royce Phantom. He has at least 13 palaces (one of each of his wives) and since he recently married wife number 14, we must expect another palace to be built soon.
Figures revealed in 2009 suggest that the Swazi people are spending E300,000 per day on the upkeep of the Royal Family. In Swaziland, seven out of ten people live in abject poverty, earning less than E10 per day.
Details of Swaziland’s 2007 Population and Housing Census, just published, show 23 percent of the population live in stick and mud houses.
The report states that the quality of housing is ‘often used as a measure of the standard of living of a country and one of the most leading indicators of development. Better housing conditions are essential for human survivorship’.
The report also states that 40 percent of the ‘economically active’ or working population in Swaziland is unemployed, That means 136,105 people are without work, double the number unemployed when the last census was taken in 1997.
Women in the country have the highest unemployment rate, being 47.7 per cent, compared to 33.6 percent men. The combined national unemployment rate is 40.6 per cent.
The economically active (labour force) is constituted of 335,093 people. These are people who ‘qualify’ to participate in the labour market but find themselves without jobs.
The report states that urban areas have an unemployment rate of 14.6 percent for males and 25.9 percent for females compared to 40 percent and 53 percent respectively for the rural areas.