Since I’ve moved to Phoenix, I’ve not had nearly the same level of contact with people working in Swaziland, but I’m still very interested in what’s happening in that country and the people there are often in my thoughts.
There’s an article in the New York Times today about the present situation in the country:
“Yes, Swazis have enjoyed decades of peace and are rightfully proud of their culture. But poverty has entrapped two-thirds of the people, leaving hundreds of thousands of them malnourished. And these days death casually sweeps away even the strong. The country has one of the worst rates of H.I.V.. infection in the world. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 years in 1997 to barely half that now. Nearly a third of all children have lost a parent.
‘How can the king live in luxury while his people suffer?’ asked Siphiwe Hlophe, a human rights activist. ‘How much money does he need, anyway?’
That question was as confounding as it was impertinent. In the government’s latest budget, about $30 million was set aside for ‘royal emoluments.’
But surely the king’s income exceeds that, people said. The royal family also controls a corporate business empire ‘in trust for the nation,’ investing in sugar cane, commercial property and a newspaper. Forbes.com, which is fond of ranking the rich elite, recently listed Mswati III as the world’s 15th wealthiest monarch, estimating his fortune at $200 million.”
Read the full article here.
Surprising news to me that there’s any criticism of the King. When I was in Swaziland back in 2004 I didn’t any outright criticism. There was just the beginning of an opposition party.
Apparently things are degrading.