In the same week we hear that the Swaziland Government wants to throw another E350 million (50 million US dollars) of taxpayers’ money at the Sikhuphe International Airport comes news that construction of the ‘Royal Science and Technology Park’ will begin in April 2011- with the first phase costing E850 million.
And what do the airport and the science park have in common? They are both Royal vanity projects that the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, doesn’t need and can’t afford.
The Minister of Information Communication and Technology Nelsiwe Shongwe said the project would consist of a bio-technological park and an information technology park at Nokwane.
According to a report in the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, Moses Zungu, the Project Manager, said the science park was the initiative of the king.
That tells us everything. Sikhuphe Airport, which presently is unfinished because government money ran out, was also a vanity project (sorry, ‘initiative’) of King Mswati. He’s not an absolute monarch for nothing: if he wants a project, he gets a project. Or at least a project gets started.
Zungu told professors and lecturers at the University of Swaziland (Chancellor: King Mswati) that the science park ‘was a process whose fruits would take time to be witnessed’.
Or put another way: we don’t know who wants to use the science park, or where the money is going to come from to build it, but we’re going ahead with it anyway.
Zungu said an investment of E850 million would be spent on the first phase, which would involve basic infrastructure such as roads, drainage, landscaping and other works, while architectural designs for the project were being processed. That phase starts in April 2011.
It looks like this is another round of my Fantasy Watch game. Write that date down and let’s come back in April and see how Mr Zungu is getting on.