Even though 70 per cent of Swazis earn less than one US dollar a day, King Mswati is said to have a net worth of 200 million dollars.
The most recent estimate from Forbes Magazine in the United States reveals that as some royals get ‘poorer’, King Mswati just keeps coining it in.
So if the rest of Swaziland is so poor, where does King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, get his money from? This is a carefully guarded secret but according to Afrik.com he owns (among other things) 10 per cent of every mining company in Swaziland.
The website also reminds us that the king has a ‘penchant for luxury’ and is reckoned to have 14 wives (no one is really sure about the number he has since this is information the Swazi people are not allowed to have) each with a personal palace.
Forbes says King Mswati is the beneficiary of two funds created by his father Sobhuza II in trust for the Swazi nation. During his reign, he has absolute discretion over use of the income, which has allowed him to build palaces for each of his wives and stay at five-star hotels when abroad.
We also know that the people of Swaziland have to pay for the king’s extravagances. Last year they were forced to spend about something like 10 million dollars on a party to ‘celebrate’ the king’s 40th birthday and the 40th anniversary of the kingdom’s independence.
As well as his personal wealth, King Mswati receives money from the Swazi taxpayer. In this year’s Swaziland national budget he gets E130 million (about 13 million US dollars) for his family’s upkeep.
This is more than the money Swaziland will spend on capital expenditure for education (E113 million) or capital expenditure on social security and welfare (E73 million).
Or put another way, 70 percent of the families of one million Swazi people live on less than E10 a day, while the Royal Family gets by on a third of a million a day.