The African Dictator
25 May 2011
King Mswati III Jets off as Broke Senators Whine
It’s an obvious response to a damning IMF report which has forced you to introduce massive civil servant pay cuts: Fly off on a private jet with your ubiquitous royal entourage to a summit with leaders and dictators from across the continent. King Mswati III has done just that.
Swaziland hasn’t had a good year. The absolute monarch’s financial reform program was totally rejected by the IMF, and he was forced to introduce massive pay cuts across the board for civil servants. Civil servants, including the disgruntled senators, are facing financial ruin after the bills exceeded the tiny country’s ability to pay.
A contentious clause in the Circular No.1 Bill allowed for massive perks for politicians- mostly hand-picked by Mswati himself. That’s all history, now. Swaziland had a completely disproportionate staffing level of civil servants- so much so that the economy has collapsed. Mswati’s use of the state coffers as a personal bank account hasn’t helped matters, either.
Local government officials are stressing too. A group of mayors has requested a meeting with the King in order to bow and scrape and continue in their positions of power, but he’s not around right now.
King Mswati III is in Ethiopia, with his royal and political entourage, enjoying the attention of flag-waving schoolchildren and his fellow dictators. And he’s probably sweating a bit under his royal robes as he courts the favour of his neighbours- there’s been lots of pressure for him to become just a regular monarch within a democracy run by a functioning democratic government. So as he mingles with Meles Zenawi, Obiang Nguema, and representatives from Chad, Libya, Mauritania and others at the India-Africa summit, he’ll be hoping for some hand-outs from his buddies.
The beggar-king needs to do something fast. The unions are planning to protest again in Swaziland- and last time they did it cost Mswati in terms of global popularity as his security forces brutalised protesters and threw them in prison- all in full view of a horrified world-media. The senators are complaining about not being able to afford the bills at the private schools in other countries which their spoilt children go to, and other civil servants are facing financial ruin.
There’s trouble up ahead. He can’t just carry on his jet-setting global shopping spree with his 13 wives and various minders- his personal fortune of $100 million is safe, but his throne may be under threat. Still, he can just hop onto his private jet, and avoid it all, as long as his dictator-buddies offer him the support he craves.
Indicators: The King is finding out that
Monopolising the economy and
Using state funds for private use are not healthy, particularly when the
Media and opposition you try to oppress are not staying silent any more. His days of
Manipulating the constitution and
Abusing his power in terms of the judiciary and legislature are surely about to end.