News that one of Swaziland King Mswati III’s 13 wives is staying at a luxury South African hotel running up a bill of R500,000 (US$60,000) in a month has caused anger in the poverty stricken kingdom.
Queen LaMotsa, the second of the King’s wives, is reported to be staying in the presidential suite of the Westcliff Hotel. She is said to have been there for a month so far. The luxury hotel charges US$2,000 (R17,250) a night.
LaMotsa is in Johannesburg to be near her son Prince Majaha who is in a Netcare hospital in the city after he was critically injured in a motorbike accident last month.
The Star, Johannesburg, reported that news of the Queen’s accommodation expenses and her son’s private healthcare had caused outrage among ordinary Swazis. It reported one, who declined to be named, saying she had recently taken a relative to a public hospital after a car accident, but was offered only painkillers.
‘When the King’s son is involved in an accident, he is rushed to South Africa to get the best treatment at a private hospital. This is unacceptable,’ she said.
Swaziland Diaspora Platform spokeswoman Ntombenhle Khathwane said, ‘We hope the government will realise there are many other Swazis like Prince Majaha who face life-threatening medical emergencies, but do not have the luxury of a prompt medical response like the young prince.
‘These are the Swazis who die every day in ill-equipped Swazi hospitals owing to the government’s neglect of our health system.’
Swaziland Solidarity Network spokesman Lucky Lukhele said the health system had collapsed in Swaziland. He added there was no doubt that it was Swazi taxpayers who were paying for the Queen’s stay at the hotel as well as Majaha’s medical expenses.
The news of the Queen’s high spending is revealed just as King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, arrived in London to attend a dinner to celebrate the UK Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee. The King is staying at the Savoy Hotel, where rooms reportedly cost £400 (US$630) a night. He is said to have taken an entourage of 30 people with him.
In Swaziland, seven in ten people live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day.
For his birthday last month the King received a private jet plane, worth an estimated US$17 million. The King has refused to disclose the source of the gift, leading to speculation that it was paid for out of public funds.