In Swaziland, where seven in ten of the population live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day, and one in three rely on international food aid in any given year, King Mswati III, the kingdom’s autocratic monarch, hosted a birthday party for himself that cost at least E1.2 million (US$120,000).
According to a report in the Sunday Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, 35 cattle and 1,000 blankets were also presented to the King.
The King’s subjects, through their chiefs, also contributed 69 cattle, two goats and E5,400 cash.
The newspaper reported that the party held on Friday (5 June 2015) was to celebrate the King’s 47th birthday that took place on 19 April.
The Observer reported, ‘The dinner was indeed a glamorous event that was attended by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Emakhosikati, members of the royal family, chiefs, diplomats, acting Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala, cabinet ministers, members of parliament and advisory councils.’
The newspaper added, ‘With entertainment in the form of music and comedy aplenty, guests were treated to a three-course meal with wine and J.C Le Roux champagne made available in all the tables.
‘But most of the wine and champagne bottles were not opened during the dinner as guests feared falling victim to drink-driving.
‘Instead, guests were seen walking out of the immaculately decorated marquee into their vehicles with the bottles tucked under their arms.
‘However, those who were not driving were able to down the bottles while enjoying the sumptuous meal.’
The newspaper said the dinner, held at Ebuhleni Royal Residence, was mainly sponsored by the Indonesian Consular and businessman Kareem Ashraf.
The Observer reported, ‘Besides the E1.2m forked out for the dinner, it was also announced on the night that the business people had contributed a total amount of around E197,000 towards the main birthday celebrations on April 19. Chiefs from the Hhohho region, it was announced, contributed 69 cattle, two goats and E5,400 cash for the main celebrations. Various sponsors also contributed 18 more cattle while four other beasts and eight goats came from individuals.’
In a speech, the King told his admirers that God blessed his party. He said, ‘The nation will recall that during the evening programme (on April 19) we received blessings from God in the form of rain. It is our traditional belief that when it rains after a national ceremony it means God is happy with the whole event.’
KING PARTIES WHILE CHILDREN DIE