Police officers and support staff in Swaziland are being told they must contribute cash towards the cost of the 50/50 celebration to mark the autocratic King Mswati III's 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the kingdom's independence from Great Britain.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported on Monday (12 March 2018) that Royal Swaziland Police 'administration' had made the directive.
It reported, 'Information gathered was that contributions to be made by police officers would differ according to ranks and at the bottom are support staff members who are supposed to fork out E10 each while a recruit would part with E30.
'A police officer holding the rank of a constable will have to contribute E50, E100 for sergeants and E150 for assistant inspectors. Inspectors and assistant superintendents will contribute E200 and E300 respectively while superintendents will fork out E400.'
The newspaper reported the directive was received with 'mixed feelings'. Some supported the idea and said they would contribute more than the minimum ordered. Others said it should not have been made compulsory.
A major celebration is planned for 19 April 2018 at Mavuso Trade and Exhibition Centre.
A call had already gone out to the business community, institutions and individuals to make donations of up to E1 million (US$84,000) and beyond. It has already been announced that a budget of the equivalent of US$1.7 million has been earmarked by the Swazi government for the celebration. The Taiwan Government has donated US$1.3 million.
When similar celebrations took place in 2008 the cost of the so-called 40/40 celebrations overran by E32.6 million (about US$5 million at the then exchange rate). E17 million was budgeted but it ended up costing 'at least' E50.2 million. The exact figure is uncertain.