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?