News24

Swaziland's King Mswati III

2011-04-12 11:10

Manzini - Africa's last absolute monarch, Swaziland's King Mswati III, has enraged his impoverished nation by enjoying a lifestyle of unchecked luxury while demanding salary cuts from civil servants.

Mswati has 13 wives and a fortune estimated at $100m, placing him on Forbes magazine's list of the 15 richest monarchs in the world.

The 42-year-old king, who assumed the throne in 1986 at the age of 18, has a penchant for fast cars, luxury palaces and extravagant parties.

In a country where nearly 70% of people live on less than $1 a day, he has caused controversy by building million-dollar palaces for each of his wives, giving them BMWs and personal staff and sending them on overseas shopping sprees by private jet.

To rein in government spending and qualify for international loans, Swaziland wants to slash salaries for civil servants, which last month sparked rare street protests.

Born on April 19, 1968, only four months before Swaziland attained independence from Britain, Mswati is, like the country he rules, a curious mix of traditional African and modern Western influences.

Educated at Sherborne school in the south of Britain, he is as likely to appear in public in a stylish suit and tie as the traditional blanket wrap and red-feathered crown he is often photographed in.

Tight control

He has embraced Western-style market-driven economic policies, but has refused to loosen the monarchy's grip on power.

Besides acting as head of state and commander in chief, the king appoints his cabinet and prime minister - currently the staunchly loyalist Barnabas Dlamini - and maintains tight control over parliamentary elections.

Political parties have been banned in the kingdom since 1973.

Respect for the monarchy runs deep among Swazi people, who take their name from the current king's 19th-century forebear Mswati II, but patience with the royal family has appeared to be running thin in recent years.

Mswati sparked outrage in 2002 when he tried to lease a $48m private jet in the middle of a drought that left a quarter of the population in need of food aid.

The same year, the mother of 18-year-old Zena Mahlangu said royal aides had kidnapped her daughter to become the king's 10th wife.

Mswati had reportedly spotted Mahlangu at the annual reed dance, a ceremony in which tens of thousands of bare-breasted virgins dance for the king.

When Mahlangu's mother took the matter to court, the presiding judges claimed Mswati's henchmen had threatened them.

Controversies and scandals


The entire high court resigned later that year when the king refused to abide by the six judges' ruling in the case of 200 families evicted in eastern Swaziland so Prince Maguga, Mswati's brother, could live on their land.

The king's marital life has continued to be at the centre of numerous controversies and scandals.

The king again caused a stir in 2003 when he picked his 11th wife, 17-year-old Noliqwa Ntentesa, admitting to violating his own decree banning sex for women under 18 - a bid to halt the spread of HIV in the country with the world's worst infection rate, 25.9%.

In 2008, a 19-year-old woman reportedly ran away to South Africa to escape becoming wife number 14.

Last year, Justice Minister Ndumiso Mamba resigned amid allegations of a love affair with Mswati's 12th wife.

A palace source told AFP 22-year-old Nothando Dube, a former Miss Teen Swaziland, would disguise herself as a soldier to sneak out of her palace to meet the minister.

Mswati has 23 children. According to the Swaziland National Trust, his father, King Sobhuza II, had 70 wives and 210 children.

Comments
  • Wendy - 2011-04-12 12:09

    Viva Africa Viva

  • THANDI - 2011-04-12 13:31

    why should people fight for freedom,savota from 1994 sifuna inkululeko sengathi siththa amapasa wethu siyawancolisa asuwuboni umehluko phakathi kulombuso esikuwo bafuna ukuyuza abantu ukuzebona baphile fancy life buy expensive thing like house of 1 millions,car of 1 millions i dnt talk abt fooods,how many people they suffer in this country and you knw 80% of south african they sleep without eating having a plce to stay.yeh.........bomaspala kheseniyekele ukudla imali yombuso abantu bayasogola ngasphandla.for the example me come frm the poor family frm 1999 si apply indlu ye RDP TILL NOW WE GET HELP,ME AND MY FAMILY WE ALWAYS VOTE NOW I DECIDE TO STOP MY FAMILY TO NOT VOTE NGOBA SIKHUPHULA ABANTU UKUTHI BAYOKUPHILA KAMNANDI THINA SISOGOLA KANGAKA SORRY...............POOR GOVERMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA NGOBA NABO OPRESIDENT BOTSOTSI NGEZEYAPHELA ICORRUPTION HERE IN SOUTH AFRICA UMNOTHO ASAZOBOGABOGA AND ASLO A POVERTY IS GOING TO BE INCREASED.STOP CORRUPTION IN SOUTH AFRICA VIVA SOUTH AFRICA VIVA...........

      The Patriot - 2011-04-15 12:23

      Intersting comment........

      hopeful? - 2011-04-15 13:07

      i agree

      KEITH - 2011-04-26 17:00

      Yeh! That's cool Thandi, but what you need to say is "To stop the corruption I'll vote for another party".....Will you?

  • guy olembe - 2011-04-12 14:22

    The biggest problem for africans is their custom and traditions. good tradition or else, turns to a destruction of his own people, in spiritual realm.

      stephen scott - 2011-04-13 13:44

      IT can lift them out of that in 1 generation.

  • Utossa - 2011-04-12 16:07

    Bring on Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria etc. etc. The people must govern ! SA - Your turn next.

  • joka - 2011-04-12 16:22

    Swaziland is run much better than SA. Crime is low and people s lives are respected

      Markusman - 2011-04-13 13:41

      as someone who has spent a lot of time in Swaziland, I really do feel for these people. They are the friendliest and lost unassuming africans I have met. The king has no connection with his people. His father, the previous king was a good man who cared for his people but as happened to so many monarchies in history, Mswati came to power too young and never learned how to respect and manage his position. He will have no one to blame for his downfall but himself.

      Markusman - 2011-04-13 13:41

      as someone who has spent a lot of time in Swaziland, I really do feel for these people. They are the friendliest and lost unassuming africans I have met. The king has no connection with his people. His father, the previous king was a good man who cared for his people but as happened to so many monarchies in history, Mswati came to power too young and never learned how to respect and manage his position. He will have no one to blame for his downfall but himself.

      Frangipani - 2011-04-14 15:37

      what? are you serious?

      BigSpoon - 2011-04-17 21:18

      Hey Joka, Swaziland is much better than SA...they only have 70% unemployment and most of the nation lives below the povertly line...sounds like a party over there, maybe we should all move there???? OH yes and I almost forgot they have a dictator as a King... did you read your comment before you wrote it????

  • Pasha - 2011-04-13 08:05

    If I didnt know better I would say this was a cult something like we ready about Waco in Texan. This is frigging unreal but then look at Zuma and all his wives....

  • adnaan.slamdien - 2011-04-13 08:12

    Another case of greed being overcome by the righteous hand of Justice. Hope the people of Swaziland will be helped by at least one African country, time to take this "king" down with his blatant disregard of responsibility. The AU would not even consider this because of old relationships/contracts with Swaziland's "leaders". Look at their "negotiations" with Libya. Gaddafi new fair and well the people wanted him out but the AU still drafts a plan to include him into the transition period they so desperately want and need. This happened because the AU has been the major benefactors from the regime in Libya.

      Phineas - 2011-04-13 13:22

      AU? What is AU doing for the people of this continent? Toothless Dog belonging to and controlled by the West. It makes me sick. African leaders (just like in apartheid time) are useless - all of them except Madiba.

  • Sdikadika - 2011-04-13 09:06

    There is no freedom of speech in Swaziland, u can not criticize the king & government; the king's birthday celebration costs the state so much money while people are starving & dying of HIV ( did i hear a jubilee celebration this year?.. check!, old pension money has been stopped to finance OVCs education while his allocation has increased to buy more cars & maybe get another wife, there're useless committees Border Adjustments,constitution administered by the kings brother, elections administered by his brother, prime minister appointed by king..does this mean other Swazi's are less educated or incompetent? No they are just suppressed and not given a chance..where on earth have you ever heard that employees' pension is taxed after having paid tax all your working years?..the king is running the country like his back-yard. Why can't he agree to become a symbolic monarchy? modelled in the line of the British system, leave the people to govern themselves..the answer is greed & corruption, he wants to own all the resources and rule with a iron fist..Mubarak ruled with the iron fist for 23 years but it took 28 days to bring him down! Gaddafi can tell u a better story today, Gbagbo has been captured.. UNITY CAN BRING DOWN ANY SYSTEM...its a matter of time. If negotiations fails force has to be applied. Fellow citizens & comrades , we need go for training outside Swaziland and come back in full force! You need liberate the country for the benefit of future generations not yourself.

      selby mokoen - 2011-04-17 07:31

      4ward ever,its enough wth king's iron fist viva comrade

  • Sdikadika - 2011-04-13 09:06

    There is no freedom of speech in Swaziland, u can not criticize the king & government; the king's birthday celebration costs the state so much money while people are starving & dying of HIV ( did i hear a jubilee celebration this year?.. check!, old pension money has been stopped to finance OVCs education while his allocation has increased to buy more cars & maybe get another wife, there're useless committees Border Adjustments,constitution administered by the kings brother, elections administered by his brother, prime minister appointed by king..does this mean other Swazi's are less educated or incompetent? No they are just suppressed and not given a chance..where on earth have you ever heard that employees' pension is taxed after having paid tax all your working years?..the king is running the country like his back-yard. Why can't he agree to become a symbolic monarchy? modelled in the line of the British system, leave the people to govern themselves..the answer is greed & corruption, he wants to own all the resources and rule with a iron fist..Mubarak ruled with the iron fist for 23 years but it took 28 days to bring him down! Gaddafi can tell u a better story today, Gbagbo has been captured.. UNITY CAN BRING DOWN ANY SYSTEM...its a matter of time. If negotiations fails force has to be applied. Fellow citizens & comrades , we need go for training outside Swaziland and come back in full force! You need liberate the country for the benefit of future generations not yourself.

  • Phineas - 2011-04-13 13:27

    Where was Helen Zille and her Cape friends before 1994? Were they also opposition party to National Party or they did not see a need as they supported Oppression of Blacks by white? I am asking this coz i'm looking for Party that i can vote for, a party with good credentials. Please help.

      The Patriot - 2011-04-15 12:34

      They were the Nats opposition, they were originally known as the United Party under Helen Suzman and Dr van Zyl Slabbert. Name changes followed to Democratic Party and now Democratic Alliance. Zilla was part of Black Sash, an anti apartheid activist group, and she exposed the government murder of Steve Biko. Place you X there.

  • Phineas - 2011-04-13 13:28

    Where was Helen Zille and her Cape friends before 1994? Were they also opposition party to National Party or they did not see a need as they supported Oppression of Blacks by white? I am asking this coz i'm looking for Party that i can vote for, a party with good credentials. Please help.

      stephen scott - 2011-04-13 13:43

      I was hoping that COPE would be the guys to go for , but they seem to be stumbling along, Id vote far a party that Trevor Manuel would put together.

      JOHNNYBRAVO - 2011-04-14 12:31

      phineas, i believe me zille used to be a member of the black sash. [a pr-black white women movement]. so i would say that would answer your question?

      mynah - 2011-04-15 09:10

      Yes, they were also the official opposition before 1994 and were vocal critics of apartheid. They were previously known as the Democratic Party, and before that (in the 70s and 80s, if I remember correctly) as the Progressive Federal Party.

  • stephen scott - 2011-04-13 13:35

    Malema and Zuma will be on that Forbes list by the end of the decade

      JOHNNYBRAVO - 2011-04-14 12:32

      noooo dude, long before that judging by the way that they are going on!

  • cgtours - 2011-04-13 15:17

    To Phineas, Before 1994 Zille was fighting the old apartheid Nationalist Pary and exposing them ( note Steve Biko etc) Since then she has been building DA party - NOW she is fighting again the ANC Corruption Fraud Gravey Train because now the ANC is ruining the WHOLE COUNTRY AND STEALING FROM THE pOOR- tHEY HAVE TO GO! They are not Madiba/Tambo or the previous Anc who were the REAL Anc..Now they are looking for money everywhere, electricity Increases/Tax Increases/Fuel Increases/Toll Fees, because they are spending wasting stealing the rest and now there is not enough money so they are looking for more everywhere. Can yu imagine if they carry on like this ? How much will be left in 10 years time. How can they pay for 1 night to sleep in a hotel, the same as 1500 children grants would cost for a WHOLE month!! Yes, jus fo 1 night!! How can they spend 100 Million - not 1 million, 100 million to renovate a House for Zuma- There was nothing wrong with that house - he never before in his life even had a house like that from his own pocket- NO they are taking it from every South Africans Pocket-!!People must really be blind, cannot read, totally stupid to NOT acknowledge this Government is out of control with OUR money not their money-they still have their big Salaries!plus,freecars/free petrol/free houses/ free servants /free Bodyguards free Airflights,free hotels,They have NO SHAME/NO SCRUPLES NO,THEY STEAL FROM THE POOR by using all the money for themselves,VOTE DA BEST AT MOMENT

  • Sifiso - 2011-04-13 19:27

    the King is just purely inconsiderate and do not care about his country and its people.its sad

      JOHNNYBRAVO - 2011-04-14 12:36

      spoilt! never grew up!

  • khabavovo - 2011-04-15 00:42

    well people look at things the wrong way,democracy is so expensive,coz it costs bloob and tears,so after u evict the king from the throne,more blood is still going to shed fighting who to rule.south africa was preaching the gospel of black power and my brother is my brother no mattewr what,now my brother is my brother if he is a ZULU,XHOSA ETC.NOW TRIBALISM AND XENOPHOBIA.SWazis DO NOT PUT UR SELVES INTO THIS HEARTACHE.PLZZ.POLITICS IS A DIRTY GAME.FOCUS ON GROWING THE ECONOMY,ITS BEEN WORKING FOR U OVER THE YEARS AND U R THE AND ONLY ABSOLUTE MONACH.THATS BEATY RIGHT THERE AND PRIDE

  • khabavovo - 2011-04-15 00:47

    well people look at things the wrong way,democracy is so expensive,coz it costs bloob and tears,so after u evict the king from the throne,more blood is still going to shed fighting who to rule.south africa was preaching the gospel of black power and my brother is my brother no mattewr what,now my brother is my brother if he is a ZULU,XHOSA ETC.NOW TRIBALISM AND XENOPHOBIA.SWazis DO NOT PUT UR SELVES INTO THIS HEARTACHE.PLZZ.POLITICS IS A DIRTY GAME.FOCUS ON GROWING THE ECONOMY,ITS BEEN WORKING FOR U OVER THE YEARS AND U R THE AND ONLY ABSOLUTE MONACH.THATS BEATY RIGHT THERE AND PRIDE

  • Leonard - 2011-04-15 08:47

    23 Children does he know them all by names and their dates of birth? i just think enough is enough, how do you justify the fact that 70% of the people in your country are starving and you as their leader living a luxurious life style and you expect those people to support you or see you as a great leader? absolute nonsense!selfishness and self-centeredness must come to an end from our leaders.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-04-15 20:57

    This mswati is nothing but a criminal. A parasite.

  • Stalin - 2011-04-16 14:10

    i bet fuel is cheaper in swaziland, am sure bread is cheaper too. well why go pay tribute to the british throne when we got our own african one next door. long life mswati. there is noone who can live on less than R1. so thanx for the smear campaign am not buying. south africa is worse than swaziland on human rights and welfare, yet we have more than 300 political parties.

  • croix - 2011-04-17 14:25

    42 Years old, and already a fortune of $100,000,000 ?! That 'achieved' in a country the size of a postage stamp, and never worked a single day in his life?? - this king must be one of the most astute businessmen in the history of mankind! Phenominal!! So how is this different to the ANC "fatcat brigade"?

      croix - 2011-04-17 14:28

      ...*Phenomenal*...

      JOHNNYBRAVO - 2011-04-17 20:58

      only one very fat cat. oops, forgot the 13 fat wives too. [he must be tired but happy?]

  • BigSpoon - 2011-04-17 21:14

    Zuma! your mate needs help! maybe Zuma can rally SADC and Mugabe to help this poor king, he is about to loose his throne....all of these fantastic dictators(democratly elected presidents) are loosing power, what is a man to do........????

  • boxer1266 - 2011-04-18 11:51

    It's funny how so-called "African" traditions only favour the few, the rich, the influential or lean towards satifying somebody's insatiable lust for power, money and and sex! There are some good traditions and some bad ones. Get rid of the bad ones that continue to hold Africa in the grip of the "primordial soup"!

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