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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

KING BUYS JET AS UN BAILS KINGDOM OUT

Only days after it was revealed that Swaziland’s King Mswati III was about to receive a private jet worth about US$14 million paid for by his Government comes news that the United Nations has donated US$2.8 million to feed the King’s starving subjects because the kingdom says it cannot afford to do so.

The World Food Programme (WFP) announced it had started distributing food across the kingdom where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

About 350,000 people – nearly a third of the population of Swaziland – are in urgent need of food assistance because of an extensive drought, according to the Swaziland Vulnerability and Assessment Committee.

WFP said in a statement it planned to reach 100,000 people in August 2016 and reach 150,000 in early 2017.

The Swazi Government declared a state of emergency in February 2016 and launched its National Emergency Response, Mitigation and Adaptation Plan requiring almost US$85 million, of which some US$61 million has yet to be secured.

The United Nations has contributed US$2.8 million to food relief through its Central Emergency Response Fund. However, WFP said it still required more than US$10 million to scale up its operations to meet needs of the most vulnerable through the lean season into next year. 
  
Meanwhile, the Swazi Government has released only E22 million (US$1.5 million) of the E305 million earmarked for drought relief in this year’s national budget. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Monday (11 July 2016) that the Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini announced this to the House of Assembly.

The newspaper reported he ‘failed to explain the reasons behind government’s failure to purchase and distribute food to the affected communities’. 

King Mswati who already owns a private jet was criticised in April 2016 when news broke of the impending purchase of a 375-seater Airbus A340-300. Critics said the money should be put to better use,

Swaziland is in the grip of a drought crisis and in February 2016 the Swazi Government declared a national emergency and said the kingdom would need E248 million (US$16 million) before the end of April 2016 for relief. 

King Mswati has a reputation as for lavish spending. He owns 13 palaces, a fleet of top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz cars, a fleet of BMWs and at least one Rolls Royce. Meanwhile, seven in ten of his 1.2 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

See also

SWAZI KING SET TO GET 375-SEATER JET
KING ‘STEALS FROM CHILDREN’ TO BUY JET
$12m SPEND ON ROYAL DECOR AT AIRPORT

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