King Mswati III, who has taken a 23 percent increase in his own budget while pensions for the destitute elderly have been suspended due to lack of government cash, has made a fresh call on his subjects to make a sacrifice to get his kingdom out of the economic mire.
But, once again, he continues to exclude himself and his royal family from the sacrifice.
In what was described as a ‘conversation’ with one of the newspapers he in effect owns, King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, said, ‘We need to work even harder and sacrifice even more today for a better tomorrow.’
But, his wasn’t the Royal ‘We’: this was most definitely a Royal ‘You’.
King Mswati said everyone should play a part in putting the wagon back on track.
But, while he calls on his subjects – seven in ten earn less than US$2 a day and three in ten are malnourished – to sacrifice, he continues to coin it in at the Swazi people’s expense.
In the national budget revealed in February, the king his family got E210 million (US$30 million). That’s E40 million more than he got in 2010/2011, when he got E170 million. And it’s E80 million more than the E129.5 million he got in 2009/2010. That means he’s had a 63 percent increase since 2009.
These details about the cost to the Swazi people of King Mswati and his Royal Family have been kept from his subjects. No media in Swaziland have made mention of them, even though the information was published on blog sites and Facebook before being taken up by the international media.
The king also has a personal fortune, estimated by Forbes in 2009, to be US$200 million.
King Mswati told the Weekend Observer in an interview published today (26 March 2011) that a new ‘launch pad’ was needed for ‘an economic revolution’.
He said, ‘This calls for unity of purpose more than ever. It helps no one to go to the streets and cause disruption in times when the country is buckling under the pressure of the economic downturn. We need to work even harder and sacrifice even more today for a better tomorrow. The storms shall pass for sure, but the period they will last will depend solely on our actions as a nation.’
Last Friday, an estimated 8,000 people marched in Mbabane, the Swazi capital, to demand the government resigns. Many of the marchers were also calling for the end of the monarchy.
King Mswati said, ‘What the country needs right now is not protests or militant revolution, but an economic revolution to focus on reviving the economy, raising the income of Swazis through employment creation, putting food on the people’s table and launching a concerted and decisive onslaught on poverty.’
The king gave no indication to the newspaper about what he would be doing to help achieve this ‘economic revolution’.
THE KING GETS MORE, HIS SUBJECTS LESS