Swazi king’s wives on shopping spree
July 28, 2010 2 Comments
According to still unconfirmed reports from the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, some or all of the 13 wives of king Mswati of Swaziland have gone on yet another multi-million dollar shopping spree, this time to Brussels and London. An additional 80 other people have apparently accompanied them to attend to the queens, according to Swazi Media Commentary. Commenting on this, Swaziland United Democratic Front and Swaziland Federation of Labour General Secretary Vincent Ncongwane insisted that he wanted to have “this wasteful visit exposed as we cannot be seen to be silent at this time when the common man, woman and indeed child on the streets go to bed (a good number of them) without food for a day or two and have to make do with handouts”.
This is not the first time that Mswati’s wives have gone on such shopping trips, the latest being in 2009, where they spent 6 million dollars on a trip to Europe and the Middle East. The media in Swaziland, mostly owned or controlled by the monarchy and the Swazi state, were warned at the time not to report on the trip and that they would face repercussions and possible closure if they did. In 2008, a similar shopping spree was met with widespread protests in Swaziland as outraged women took to the streets, and both the 2008 and 2009 trips were covered in an array of foreign newspapers such as The Australian, The Sunday Times and BBC News, all of whom said that this showed Mswati’s profligacy and his disregard for his poor subjects.
Whilst Swaziland’s monarch, who has a “personal” fortune of over $250 million that is held in trust for the nation, spends inordinate sums on luxuries such as cars, personal jets, private palaces, and shopping trips for his wives, Swaziland’s population as a whole rely largely on international aid from the European Union and the United States for their subsistence. More than two thirds of the population live on under 1$ a day, unemployment is over 40%, and over 40% of the population have HIV/AIDS.
In Swaziland, local press subdues royal sex scandal coverage, Richard Rooney, Committee to Protect Journalists, 11 August 2010
Royal sex scandal: Arrests made, Swazi Media Commentary, 11 August 2010
Minister axed in Swazi royal sex scandal, City Press, 8 August 2010
Swazi minister quits over alleged affair with one of king’s wives, The Guardian, 6 August 2010
Red mist for polygamist Swazi king as wife No 12 ‘caught in bed with his justice minister friend’, Daily Mail, 3 August 2010