Unconfirmed reports are swirling around Swaziland that a group of the king’s wives are on another multi-million dollar international shopping spree.
It is said that the queens (King Mswati III has at least 13, but it is unclear how many are on the trip) are travelling to Brussels in Belgium and then to London, UK.
About 80 other people are said to be on the trip to tend to the needs of the queens.
If anyone can confirm these reports or has other information I’d be happy to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The latest reports have the ring of truth about them as the queens have form when it comes to extravagant shopping trips.
In August 2009, five of King Mswati’s wives went on a shopping trip through Europe and the Middle East that cost an estimated 6 million US dollars.
As I reported at the time the media in Swaziland were warned not to report on the trip because it would harm the king’s reputation. Media houses were told they would face sanctions, including possible closure, if word got out.
But newspapers and websites across the world followed the story. The Times of London, for example, reported how the queens went on a shopping spree while the subjects of King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy, went hungry.
The Australian newspaper said the king ignored the Swazi poor and the newspaper reminded readers that Swaziland relied on international aid from the European Union and the United States.
The previous year in August 2008 when a group of the king’s wives went on a similar shopping spree ordinary Swazi women were so outraged that they took to the streets of Swaziland in protest.
The latest news of the king’s reckless spending comes in the month that the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by the king himself, reported that unemployment in Swaziland averaged 40 percent and in the Shiselweni region it was more than half.
In addition, seven in ten people in Swaziland live in abject poverty earning less than one US dollar a day.