King Mswati III of Swaziland is Africa's third wealthiest monarch with a personal fortune of US50 million, even though more than 65 percent of his 1.3 million subjects are forced to scrape by on less than $1.25 a day, according to new data published by Forbes magazine.
The fortune does not include the estimated US$140 million he holds through the conglomerate Tibiyo TakaNgwane, that he supposedly 'holds in trust' for the Swazi nation.
King Mswati III, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, owns 13 palaces, a private jet airplane, fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce, while the majority of his subjects rely on some form of food aid to avoid hunger. At least 40 percent of the working population is unemployed.
Forbes, in an analysis of the richest monarchs in Africa reported that the King was 'more well known for his relationships with women (he had at least 15 wives at the last count), and for his flamboyant parties'.
It added, 'He turned 46 recently, with his birthday coinciding with the Christian Easter holidays. Not willing to share the spotlight with Jesus, King Mswati postponed his birthday celebrations for five days so that a proper national holiday could be held in his honor.
'American R&B artist Erykah Badu performed for the King during the expensive celebrations, irking thousands of human right activists.'
Forbes reported, 'The King is one of Africa's wealthiest royals. His personal net worth is at least $50 million, based on the annual $50 million salary that he is paid out of government coffers.
'He also controls Tibiyo TakaNgwane, an investment holding company that owns stakes in sugar refining giants Ubombo Sugar and Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC), dairy company Parmalat Swaziland, spirits manufacturer Swaziland Beverages and hotel chain Swazi Spa Holdings. The company has assets worth over $140 million, but he holds it in trust for the people of Swaziland.'
This is not the first time Forbes has reported on the King. In 2012, Forbes named King Mswati as one of the top five worse rulers in Africa.
It reported the King ruled over a kingdom which has one of the world's highest HIV prevalence rates: ver 35 percent of adults. Its average life expectancy is the lowest in the world at 33 years; nearly 70 percent of the country's citizens live on less than $1 a day and 40 percent are unemployed.
It added, 'But for all the suffering of the Swazi people, King Mswati has barely shown concern or interest.
'He lives lavishly, using his kingdom's treasury to fund his expensive tastes in German automobiles, first-class leisure trips around the world and women. But his gross mismanagement of his country's finances is now having dire economic consequences. Swaziland is going through a severe fiscal crisis.
'The kingdom's economy is collapsing and pensions have been stopped. In June last year, the King begged for a financial bailout from South Africa.'
In 2009, Forbes named King Mswati among the top 15 wealthiest royals in the whole world.