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Friday, 24 October 2008


If wealth was properly distributed in Swaziland each and every Swazi would be a millionaire.

Instead, seven out of ten people earn less than one US dollar a day and King Mswati III has a net wealth estimated at 200 million dollars (about E1.8 billion at present exchange rates).

The ‘millionaire’ figure came from Swaziland’s new resident United Nations (UN) coordinator Musinga Timothy Bandora.

Bandora met media editors yesterday (23 October 2008) and was asked why it was that Swaziland was considered to be a ‘middle income country’ by the UN, when it was obvious to anyone that people were poor.

The question was asked by Welile Dlamini, of the state-controlled radio station Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services (SBIS).

I am astonished that the question was asked because the answer is well known. Swaziland isn’t a poor nation when you measure its gross domestic product; the problem is that the wealth is being siphoned off by a few people – with the king and the Royal Family top of the tree. What’s left, and it isn’t much, goes to the people.

The reasoning behind Dlamini’s question, according to a report in today’s Swazi Observer (24 October 2008), - the newspaper in effect owned by the king - was that the UN should change the kingdom’s classification so that Swaziland can get more money from overseas aid.

According to the Observer report, ‘But Bandora explained that the classification is based on a number of factors, adding that if there was an equal distribution of the country's wealth for the one million population - each Swazi would most likely get 100 000 US Dollars or E1 million.’

The truth is that a major way to solve the problem of poverty in Swaziland is to have a much fairer system of wealth distribution. To achieve that the king and his cronies have to give up their wealth: I can’t see that happening, can you?


Anonymous said...

Exactly. I believe this to be the most powerful message that can and should be put repeatedly to ordinary Swazi people. There is something to work with here, it all sits with him (HM) at the moment, but that in itself is no reason to give up. The focus must be on what will follow, how to make best use of it when it is better distributed. The smash and grab frenzy that has followed many a regime-change across the continent is in no one's interests.

Anonymous said...

well...that puts things into perspective.

Anonymous said...

When speaking of such matters I think the most appropriate way to do it is to tell nothing but the truth. The situation in the country is very bad but please don't exaggerate things, and from the UN I expect better because they should know that if this information falls on the wrong hands it will result in more bombings. the GDP per capita of SD is $4700( according to CIA), GDP being $5.364bil and it includes the king's wealth if my economics serves me well, since his wealth is tied up in businesses. And since when was E1.8bil divided by 1.129mil equal to E1 million. If every Swazi was a millionaire then we would have a GDP figure of about E1.129 trillion which is very unlikely considering the size of our country. Your reply to the question Mr Bandora would have been correct if you had just stated that the income in our country is not evenly distributed and maybe the fact that the King has a lot of money but the 1 million part was just unnecessary. Does Mr Bandora know the kind of havoc this very false statement may cause? We Swazis know that the system of ruling in our country is very far from being efficient but if someone decides to intervene please do what is going to serve us well. What would an illiterate and poor person think when this fell on his/her ears? We very much appreciate your concern Mr Bandora but please next time would you please, please say what is statistically correct for the benefit of everyone.

Anonymous said...

Wow I am currently doing research on disparities between rich governments and poor people. I am using Swaziland as a base of study to understand why governments like this exist and how they last for so long. I believe that this government needs a strong dose of transparency!