11 October 2017

Swaziland: Mswati Third Wealthiest King

Photo: The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa
His Majesty King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland (file photo).

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, has been named the third wealthiest King in Africa by an international business website.

Business Insider reported that he has a net worth of US$200 million. In a short report, it said, 'King Mswati III has often been criticized for his lavish lifestyle, with many local and international media outlets accusing him of living an extravagant life, while his people languish in poverty.'

The wealth of the King who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, has been the subject of speculation outside of Swaziland for years. He rules over a population of about 1.3 million people and seven in ten of them live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.

In 2014 Forbes magazine reported the King had a personal fortune of US$50 million, but this did 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 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'.

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 was not the first time Forbes reported on the King. In 2012, Forbes named King Mswati as one of the top five worse rulers in Africa.

It added, '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.

In February 2011 the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa reported King Mswati also had US$10 billion that was put in trust in King Mswati's name for the people of Swaziland by his father, King Sobhuza II.

In 2015, a report from the United States government concluded there was no oversight in the kingdom on how the King, his 15 wives and vast Royal Family spent public money.

Swaziland

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