Here’s another ‘snapshot’ of Swaziland.
King Mswati III’s wives have moved into state houses while their palaces are being renovated.
Meanwhile, the King’s own newspaper reports that a Swazi family are so destitute they have to live in a disused maize storage tank.
The Times Sunday reported this week(18 January 2009) that the wives had moved to state houses which took three years to build at a cost of many millions of emalangeni.
‘The new state houses have spacious rooms, with imported tiles and state of the art interior finishing. Each comes with a guardhouse, for security jointly provided by the army and police,’ the newspaper reports.
‘Other palaces that are under renovations are Engabezweni Royal Residence, which is under major expansion, and is the official residence of Inkhosikati LaNgangaza. Nkoyoyo palace, which is home to Inkhosikati LaMbikiza, is also being renovated.’
At the last count the King had 13 wives (we can’t be sure because the number of wives the King has is information the Swazi people aren’t allowed to know).
The King has a wealth of 200 million US dollars (E1.4 billion),but I’d be very surprised indeed if he used any of this money on the mansions. The ordinary Swazi people will have to pick up the bill.
Meanwhile, back at the maize storage tank.
The King’s own newspaper, the Swazi Observer, reported last week that a family of four, headed by a man with epilepsy, are forced to live in the tank since his house burnt down.
The newspaper reports, ‘The tank has an opening at the base which they use as a door while the opening of the tank is used as a window. The family sleeps u-shaped with the father by the “door” to protect the family and the mother by the window.’
No state-of-the-art interior finishings here.
The Observer has also been visiting the community of Lavumisa. Here they found a child who is so malnourished that his growth has been stunted. (As I reported previously, four out of 10 Swazi children have stunted growth through malnutrition).
Although the child is four years old, he looks like a one year old. He has a twin sister who has the same problem and now lives with grandparents in South Africa.
Their unemployed father, estimated to be aged 55, said they went for days without food.
They live in a dilapidated shack made of iron sheets.
(I’ll leave you to write in your own expressions of outrage.)