King Mswati III of Swaziland is being hypocritical when he expresses disappointment at individuals who continue to plunder state resources for personal benefit.
That’s because he is the biggest plunderer of state resources and he has bled his subjects dry for his own personal gain.
In his speech at the opening of parliament on Friday (3 February 2012) he said, ‘As we move forward in rebuilding this country amidst all these challenges, one must express serious disappointment at some individuals who continue to plunder state resources for personal benefit.
‘We have seen these individuals divert national funds intended for important projects for their own benefit.
‘We can no longer allow these people to place their personal interest above that of the country.’
But King Mswati is the man who more than any other puts his personal interest above those of the people of Swaziland.
King Mswati has never done a salaried day’s work in his life, yet, according to Forbes, he has a personal fortune estimated at US$200 million. He also personally controls a trust fund set up by his father King Sobhuza II that is estimated to be worth US$10 billion.He also ‘holds in trust for the nation’ the profits of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, an investment fund with extensive shares in a number of businesses, industries, property developments and tourism facilities in Swaziland. This money is supposed to be used for the benefit of the people but the vast majority is actually used for the King’s own personal use.
When Swaziland’s annual budget was passed last year (2011), King Mswati and his family took an increase of 23 percent over the previous year.
This was at the same time that most government departments had their budgets cut by 20 percent. It turned out that these cuts had to be even deeper as Swaziland tottered further toward bankruptcy over the past 12 months, but the King has made no sacrifice.
Much of the King’s wealth is kept secret from his subjects and the wider world, but it is obvious that he has been taking vast amounts of Swaziland’s wealth as his own.
Swaziland is a tiny kingdom, with a population of about 1 million people, seven in ten of whom live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day. Even so, King Mswati believes he is entitled to bleed his subjects dry and spend the national wealth funding his own lavish lifestyle.
It is unbelievable to an outsider just how greedy the King is. He has had 13 palaces built (one for each of his wives); in the past few years he bought a fleet of 20 top-of-the range Mercedes cars and another fleet of BMW sedans.
He travels abroad in great luxury – and hires a private jet at the cost of US$3.5 million a year.
His wives go each year on worldwide shopping sprees, spending millions of dollars.
Each and every cent that goes to pay for these is plundered from the Swazi people.
In his speech to parliament, King Mswati III said, ‘It is time serious action was taken against such selfish people [the corrupt] and it should be action that truly serves as a very effective deterrent if this country is to make any progress economically from this day forth.’
How right he is: it is time serious action was taken against King Mswati to make sure he returns his loot to its rightful owners. And, action must be taken to ensure he never gets the chance to steal from the people again.
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