The Swaziland Government has denied that some of King Mswati's 13 wives are to go on a multi-million rand shopping trip and holiday to Las Vegas.
News has circulated the world saying that three of his wives will be in a party of 66 people to make the trip. They reportedly will stay in 10 separate villas - each costing R20 000 (US$2,400) per night.
The Queens on the trip have been named by the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa as LaNgangaza née Carol Dlamini, LaMagongo née Nontsetselo Magongo and LaNkambule née Phindile Nkambule. They will be accompanied by some of their children and domestic staff.
Percy Simelane, the Swazi Government's official spokesperson, denied to the Daily Sun newspaper in South Africa that the trip was to take place. He is reported saying, 'The king has no such trip.'
Simelane, who speaks for a government handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, might be playing with words, since the King is not thought to be accompanying his wives on the trip. He is presently on an official trip to Namibia and it has been reported in the international media that he will visit the Olympic Games in London, which start tomorrow (27 July 2012).
The Daily Sun reported the total cost of accommodation alone on the Las Vegas trip would be in the region of R1,2 million. It added that the party were to travel by private jet which might cost R36 million.
It said that Swazi queens traditionally buy clothing and gadgets for themselves, children and aides on these overseas sprees. They are said to happen about twice a year with the king's wives taking turns to go.
The Mail and Guardian reported that funding for the multimillion-rand trip was being supplemented by money from the national fund Tibiyo. A 'large sum of cash' is understood to have been withdrawn recently.
Lucky Lukhele of the Swaziland Solidarity Network operating out of Mzansi told the Daily Sun the planned trip was an insult, given that his people were living on donor food.
'People living with HIV have to eat cow dung so that they can take their medication,' he said.