King Mswati III is defying criticism of his rule in Swaziland.
He told an enthusiastic audience at Engabezweni yesterday (10 April 2012) that he would not answer to international criticism.
Instead, he said the kingdom would pray for the dissenting voices so that ‘one day they may see the light’.
He was bidding farewell to church leaders who had attended the annual Easter Prayer Service, in Swaziland.
King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, said God would be the one to deal with the dissenters.
The king has been under mounting criticism both inside Swaziland and outside for the way he treats his subjects. All political parties are banned and dissent is harshly dealt with. This week mass protests are to be held across Swaziland calling for democratic reform.
King Mswati also faces criticism in the international community for his lavish lifestyle. He has 13 wives and each has her own palace. He also regularly buys fleets of cars for his own and his family’s use. He is known to have a collection of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMWs.
Meanwhile, seven in ten of his subjects earn less than US$2 a day.
King Mswati told his worshippers yesterday, ‘When there is hunger people tend to easily lose their cool. But God so loved Swaziland that He let peace prevail in the country. We praise God for protecting the country and keeping an eye on it.’
He added, ‘We hear people talking a lot of things about Swaziland. At one point someone came and asked me as to why we were silent and not responding to what was being said.
‘We will only pray for them. One day they will see the light,’ local media reported him saying.
The king who, according to Forbes in 2009, had a personal fortune estimated at US$200 million added, ‘Swaziland is indeed the pulpit of Africa. God Himself brought the bible to Swaziland when He appeared in a vision and urged Swazis to choose the Holy Book as opposed to money. Future generations will also get to learn that Swazis believe in God. No one can touch this country as long as we have God on our side.’