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Friday, 28 April 2017

KING FEASTS WHILE PEOPLE STARVE



Just as the World Food Program revealed that one-in-three people in Swaziland ‘are in need of emergency food assistance’, media in the kingdom reported that King Mswati III’s birthday cake took three months to prepare.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Wednesday (26 April 2017), ‘All eyes were on the cake that was beautifully displayed in the front during the garden party at His Majesty’s birthday celebration. Most people were asking themselves how much time it took the bakers to prepare the cake. The company has always made it a point that it prepares a beautiful cake every year for His Majesty’s birthday celebrations.’

The Swazi Observer said, ‘The purple and cream white cake was set on a gold stand that connected the 49 pieces to make it one and the artistic look was finished off with a gold lion shaped piece.’

The King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, marked his 49th birthday while more than one in three of his 1.3 million subjects were kept alive by international food aid. The WFP reported 350,000 people were in need of emergency food assistance, with 640,000 potentially affected by some degree of food insecurity at the peak of the lean season (November 2016 - April 2017).

The WFP reported that its efforts to feed Swaziland was underfunded and people might not get fed in June 2017.

It reported, ‘Chronic malnutrition is a main concern in Swaziland: stunting affects 26 percent of children under five years. Swaziland is vulnerable to drought in the south east. 77 percent of Swazis rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods.’ 

King Mswati lives a lavish lifestyle with at least 13 palaces, a fleet of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMW cars. He is about to take delivery of a second private jet. Meanwhile, seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

See also

SWAZI KING’S BIRTHDAY EXCESSES

KING DEMANDS COWS FROM THE POOR

KING GETS 32 BMW CARS FOR HIS BIRTHDAY

Thursday, 27 April 2017

UN PROBES SWAZILAND ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Swaziland signed a major international agreement on human rights in the kingdom 13 years ago, but since has not reported on progress.
 
Swaziland ratified the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 2004 and its initial report on progress was due by 2005. After such a long delay, the Human Rights Committee has scheduled the review of the kingdom in the absence of report. This review will take place in July 2017.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King choses the government, the top judges and major public servants.

Andrea Meraz, Programme Manager at Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-Centre, said, ‘Few countries are reviewed by the Human Rights Committee in absence of State report. Swaziland will be one of these. Hopefully this review will foster Swaziland’s engagement with the treaty bodies.’

Swaziland has been presented with a list of 24 issues, including the relationship between King Mswati III and the Swazi Constitution, the 1973 State of Emergency decree that took power for the monarch, and the banning of political parties from elections.

Questions are also asked about protection from all forms of discrimination ‘in the public and private sectors’ in areas such as ‘race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and to ensure the application of those measures in customary law.’

The document states, ‘Please comment on the information before the Committee that the State party [Swaziland] is a country of origin, transit and destination for men, women and children trafficked for sex and forced labour, that forced and child labour are prevalent in the country and that orphans are particularly affected.’

Swaziland is asked to explain Chapter 4 of the Constitution which provides for different treatment between men and women regarding the acquisition and transfer of Swazi citizenship. One questions states, ‘Please specify the measures taken to ensure that discrimination against women is prohibited under customary law, both in law and practice.’

It asks for information and statistics on deaths in police custody and by security forces and on the Game Act 1991, ‘which gives conservation police personnel (game rangers) immunity from prosecution for killing any person suspected of having poached’.

It wants to know ‘whether torture is specifically criminalised’ in Swaziland and what rights a person taken into police custody has, including the maximum period of detention before an individual is brought before a judge.

Ahead of the review, CCPR-Centre visited Swaziland from 4 to 8 April to facilitate a consultation with civil society organisations and to meet with key stakeholders, including the Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Justice, Executive Director of the National Human Rights Commission, the UN resident coordinator and the United States and European Union Ambassadors.

In a statement, CCPR-Centre said the Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Justice had agreed to provide answers to the 24 issues.

See also

SADC URGED TO ACT ON SWAZI RIGHTS
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS WORSEN: AMNESTY
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ON SWAZILAND
SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD KILLS AGOA
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2014/05/swazi-human-rights-record-kills-agoa.html

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

COST OF FLYING SWAZI KING’S JET

As confusion reigns over the true cost on King Mswati III second private jet, confidential figures suggest his present plane may have cost Swaziland at least US$15 million to operate since he received it in 2012.

The modified McDonnel Douglas DC-9-87 jet, also known as an MD-87, cost US$9.5 million in 2012 and at least another US$4.1 million was spent on refurbishments before the King took delivery.

In 2012, the King’s company Inchatsavane signed an aircraft management operating agreement with Greek-based Gain Jet Aviation. As part of the deal the King was required to deposit US$500,000, described as ‘average two months operating costs’ to guarantee future payments. On this basis the operating costs of the aircraft would be US$250,000 per month or US$3 million per year. In the five years since the jet has been flying, the operating costs would have reached US$15 million.

The figure set by Gain Jet Aviation was only an estimate. Another estimate of costs of operating an MD-87 is available from Conklin and de Decker, Aviation Information. 

It has set the total fixed cost of the MD-87 at US$1,124,525 for a year. This works out at US$93,710 per month. 

Fixed costs are the costs that have to be paid even if the plane never flies. Among the fixed costs it lists are salaries for the pilot, the co-pilot and the flight attendant.

Conklin and de Decker set the variable costs at US$9,736.20 per hour. 

Variable costs include fuel, maintenance, landing charges at airports, staff expenses and catering.

The US$250,000 per month or US$9,736.20 per hour anticipated for operating costs might be underestimates for the true cost of flying King Mswati’s jet.

Gain Jet Aviation invoiced the Swaziland Ministry of Foreign Affairs US$312,500 for a flight in June 2012 from Tokyo (Japan), to Manzini (Swaziland). The flight was spread over two days and included fuel stops in Danang (Vietnam), Male (Maldives), and Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania). The total flying time for the journey was 20 hours 50 minutes.

The company billed for a total of US$312,500, which works out at about US$14,880 per hour.

In August 2014, Gain Jet Aviation invoiced for a trip that was going to take place the following month over 14 days from Swaziland – Tanzania – Maldives – Malaysia – India – Egypt – Nice (France) – Cameroon – Swaziland. The total estimated number of flying hours was 39 hours 35 minutes.

The invoice total was for US$593,750.00, which works out at about US$14,843 per hour.

It would be impossible to get figures for the true full cost of operating King Mswati’s private jet. The King rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and he picks the Prime Minister, the Government and the kingdom’s judges.

People who question his authority or advocate for multi-party democracy are jailed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and / or the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act.  

The US$15 million estimated to have been spent on the King’s jet since 2012 is about E197 million in the kingdom’s local currency.  As a comparison, in the national budget announced in February 2017, E110 million was set aside for the impoverished kingdom’s entire Regional Development Fund.

King Mswati is set to take delivery of a 15-year-old Airbus A340 early in 2018. Media reports in Swaziland of its cost have varied from US$12.6 million to US$22.5 million. 

See also

CONFUSION OVER COST OF KING’S JET
SWAZI MPs CONFUSED OVER KING’S JET
REVEALED: DETAILS OF KING’S NEW JET
KING'S COMPANY AT CENTRE OF JET ROW
SWAZI KING ‘REFUSED TO PAY JET DEBT’
SWAZI KING’S JET HELD FOR UNPAID DEBTS
‘SWAZI KING TO BUY US$44m PRIVATE JET’
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2015/04/swazi-king-to-buy-44m-private-jet.html

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

CONFUSION OVER COST OF KING’S JET

Swaziland lawmakers have been told that the King’s jet will cost the impoverished kingdom US$12.6 million. In the national budget in February 2016, E96 million (about US$7.3 million) had been set aside for the jet. 

There is some confusion about the true cost of the plane. A report in the Swazi Observer newspaper on 15 March 2017 said Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ‘was given E296 million, during the current financial year, to buy the state jet and E96 million was used to pay deposit for the airplane’. 

The jet is a 15-year-old Airbus A340 owned by China Airlines in Taiwan and after refurbishments it is expected to accommodate about 60 to 90 people. 

Politicians and the media in Swaziland consistently say the Airbus is being purchased as a ‘state jet’, but it has now been confirmed it will be for the sole use of King Mswati III who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze told a parliamentary workshop on Thursday (20 April 2017) government had committed itself to pay the equivalent of E166 million (US$12.65 million).

According to The Swazi Observer (21 April 2017), a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, Gamedze revealed the government had agreed to pay for the jet in two equal instalments and one had already been paid. The plane is expected to arrive in Swaziland early in 2018.

The King already has a smaller McDonnell Douglas DC-9-87 jet plane.

The Observer reported that Gamedze told the workshop the plane could only be used by heads of state, ‘not just anyone’. 

He said it was possible that the jet might be hired out to other users. The newspaper reported him saying, ‘It is true that we need money as a country. But we cannot give this plane to just anyone .We know that many people can afford to hire it, but the plane will only be given to someone who occupies a status that is similar to that of the King.’

King Mswati rules over a population of 1.3 million people. Seven in ten live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 a day. The King lives a lavish lifestyle with 13 palaces, a private jet, fleets of top-of-the range Mercedes and BMW cars and at least one Rolls-Royce.

In April 2016, Members of the Swaziland Parliament blocked the move to allocate money for the jet. Once news of the intended spending was made public outside of Swaziland the King came in for heavy criticism. Swaziland was in the grip of a drought crisis and in February the Swazi Government declared a national emergency and said the kingdom would need E248 million (US$16 million) before the end of April 2016.

Within days, the MPs overturned their earlier decision. Unconfirmed reports circulating on the Internet said that King Mswati had refused to sign-off Swaziland’s budget unless he got his jet.

See also

CONFIRMED: KING WILL GET PRIVATE JET
KING ‘STEALS FROM CHILDREN’ TO BUY JET
SWAZI MPs ABOUT-TURN ON KING’S JET
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2016/03/money-for-kings-jet-but-not-drought.html