King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland (eSwatini), has appointed his first-born son Prince Sicalo to principal secretary, the top civil servant, at the Ministry of Defence.
The appointment was announced by Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini who himself was personally appointed to his position by King Mswati.
It is the latest in the King's long list of appointments of members of his family to top positions. Recently, Prince Lindani was appointed director of economic affairs at the King's Office.
Prince Sicalo already sits as a member of the Central Bank board of directors. He was educated and trained at Libya Military College and holds the rank of major in the Swazi Army, officially known as the Umbutfo eSwatini Defence Force. According to the website of the Sicalo Foundation, which he heads, he already oversees all strategic planning, development and logistics within the military.
Swaziland is not a democracy and King Mswati rules as an absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and people are only allowed to select 59 members of the House of Assembly; the King appoints a further 10. No members of the 30-member Senate are elected by the people. The King also chooses the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers as well as senior civil servants and top judges.
Previously, King Mswati appointed his first-born daughter Princess Sikhanyiso to the post of Minister of Information, Communication and Technology. She is also a police officer, sits at the board of mobile phone company MTN and is a member of Liqoqo, a supreme traditional advisory body which is also known as the Swazi National Council Standing Committee. This group rules on matters relating to Swazi traditional law and customs.
After the most recent national election in 2018, the King appointed eight members of his family to the Senate and six to the House of Assembly. He also appointed 17 members of his own family to the kingdom's two most influential advisory committees; Liqoqo and the Ludzidzini Council, a group of senior traditionalists centred around the King's Ludzidzini Palace.
The King also appointed a further 11 princes and princesses to five other committees.
Swaziland is a small landlocked country about the size of the US state of New Jersey. Seven in 10 of its estimated 1.2 population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$3 per day. The King has at least 13 palaces. He and members of his extensive Royal Family (he has had at least 15 wives) live opulent lifestyles and are often seen in public wearing watches and jewels worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The King wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds weighing 6 kg, at his 50th birthday party in April 2018. Days earlier, King Mswati took delivery of his second private jet aircraft that with upgrades was estimated to have cost US$30 million.
In November 2019, the King took delivery of a fleet of Rolls-Royce cars for his family. The cost was estimated at minimum price tag of E52.5 million. (US$3.1 million) by US Ambassador to Swaziland, Lisa Peterson.