Swazi queens on lavish holiday while drought cripples country

2016-07-18 14:12
King Mswati III. (File: AFP)

King Mswati III. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Florida - At least three of King Mswati III of Swaziland's wives were on holiday in Orlando, Florida last week – with an entourage of more than 100, Netwerk24 reported.

The cost of this holiday was equivalent to the drought relief that the US was currently providing to the drought-stricken country - R14 million.

The queens, their bodyguards, protocol officials, family and other "support staff" left for Orlando last Saturday and were to return on Sunday.

Swazi citizens and foreign diplomats struggling to motivate for more drought relief were furious.

The country was experiencing its worst drought in 18 years.

According to Unicef, more than 350 000 Swazis were affected by the drought, while more than 64 000 head of cattle had died or were put down and no rain was expected before next March.

Diplomatic sources said several meetings were held with Mswati to raise concerns about the queens' holiday, but the king maintained that the holiday was planned long before the drought and cancellation would have led to unnecessary losses.

The Swazi government originally applied for a visa for 60 people, but the number grew to 100 while many other "guests" joined in at their own cost.

International community 

Mswati's wives have been in trouble before due to their international shopping trips.

In 2012 three of them and an entourage of 55 went to Las Vegas on a gambling holiday. The Swaziland Solidarity Network reported that the trip cost R28 million.

During an official visit to Taiwan, a Swazi ally, in May, Mswati travelled with a party of over a hundred.

The queen mother Ntombi left for Taiwan for "medical treatment" shortly after her son’s return, also with a party of more than a hundred people.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) recently asked the international community for R33.5 billion in drought relief for the region.

Swazilandwas one of the worst-hit countries due to the extreme poverty of its inhabitants. In some areas, all livestock either died or were slaughtered due to loss of pastures.

The US government made R700 000 available in March through the emergency aid agency USAid to get water to communities in the Lubombo region. USAid pledged another R36 million and the United Natuons  made R36 million available. 

Lisa Peterson, the US ambassador to Swaziland, said in response to the queens’ vacation that the US had limited funds available for drought relief. 

"When we hear of the lavish spending by the Swazi royal family – especially while a third of their citizens need food aid – it becomes difficult to encourage out government to make more emergency aid available. You can’t expect international donors to give more money to the citizens of Swaziland than their own leaders give them."

Mswati's spokesperson Percy Simelane did not respond to questions about the trip.

Read more on:    king maswati iii  |  swaziland  |  drought

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.