Earl Irvine, the US Ambassador to Swaziland, says the problem is so bad that US companies are put at a disadvantage when they do business in the kingdom.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. King Mswati handpicks the government in Swaziland.
Irvine’s comments were made in a diplomatic cable he wrote to Washington in November 2009 and just made public by Wikileaks.
The cable marked ‘sensitive’ recalls that Ambassador Irvine hosted a lunch for 15 managing director-level leaders of American businesses and franchises in Swaziland.
Ivine writes, ‘The overarching impression left from the business leaders' comments was that government corruption and requests for kickbacks have gotten substantially worse in Swaziland over the past few years, costing their enterprises a great deal of business to less scrupulous local and regional competitors.
‘Participants indicated that requests for bribes by government officials have become more blatant. When participants discussed the new Anti-Corruption Commission, they were dismissive of its possible effectiveness and openly scoffed at Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini's anti-corruption campaign.
‘Business leaders also mentioned that courts tended to hand down lenient sentences to those few actually convicted for corruption.’
To read the full cable click here http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09MBABANE319.html
US SAYS SWAZI KING ‘IMBALANCED’