17 May 2019

Swaziland Absolute Monarch Gets Millions in Cash As Birthday Gifts While People Die Through Lack of Medicine

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of impoverished Swaziland /eSwatini, received E3.5 million cash, including E300,000 from a state workers' pension fund, in birthday gifts.

He also received other gifts, including five of the latest 65-inch TV sets, portraits, jewellery, clothing and more than 100 cattle. In total the gifts for his 51st birthday were worth E6.8 million, according to the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King.

The gifts were handed over at Lozitha Palace, one of 13 palaces owned by the King who rules over a population of about 1.3 million people. Seven in ten of them live in abject poverty with incomes of less than E30 per day.

The money King Mswati received included E300,000 from the Public Service Pensions Fund which is set up to provide members with retirement annuities, death benefits, disability benefits and other pension-related benefits.

The Eswatini sugar industry contributed the biggest cheque of E1.3 million, mobile phone company Eswatini MTN donated E500,00 and Royal Swazi Spa, E264 000.

Tibiyo TakaNgwane, the conglomerate of businesses that the King holds in trust for the Swazi nation, paid for the event, the Observer reported.

The King took the gifts just after news broke in Swaziland that people were dying because of the lack of medicines in hospitals. Schools across the kingdom are struggling to feed malnourished children. The Government, which is handpicked by King Mswati, is broke and cannot pay its suppliers.

The presents the King received were modest compared to those he was given in 2018 for his 50th birthday. The Queen Mother gave him a dining room suite made of gold. It went alongside a lounge suite trimmed with gold that he was given by senior members of his government.

He also received cheques totalling at least E15 million.

At his birthday he wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit weighing 6 kg studded with diamonds. Days earlier he had taken delivery of his second private jet. This one, an Airbus A340, cost US$13.2 to purchase but with VIP upgrades was estimated to have cost US$30 million.

In addition to 13 palaces, the King also owns jewellery and watches worth millions of dollars, fleets of top-of-the range Mercedes and BMW cars. His family regularly travel the world on shopping trips spending millions of dollars each time.

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