King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, is to take over the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
In Swaziland political parties are barred from taking part in elections and opposition groups are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. The King chooses all government ministers and can and sometimes does veto decisions made at the Swazi Parliament.
SADC has 15 member states. Swaziland is the only one where political parties are banned.
SADC states that its objectives are to ‘achieve development, peace and security, and economic growth, to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration, built on democratic principles and equitable and sustainable development.’
King Mswati has been criticised internationally for his lavish lifestyle. He has at least 13 palaces, a private jet and fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars. Meanwhile nearly seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, with incomes of less than US$2 per day.
King Mswati will take up the role as chair in 2016. Meanwhile, he is expected to take the role Deputy Chairperson during the 35th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government being held in Gaborone, Botswana, between 17 and 18 August 2015.
Swaziland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, told the Observer on Sunday, a newspaper in Swaziland in effect owned by the King, said, ‘Being Chairman is a big stage and comes with immense responsibilities as the country will be responsible for drafting the SADC agenda.’
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