King Mswati III of Swaziland and his family have been likened to an ‘organised crime syndicate’ for the way they take money from the Swazi people.
The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) has launched a campaign to cut all financing of the king.
Announcing its Red October Campaign, the CPS said the money spent by King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, should be diverted for reconstruction and development of Swaziland.
Kenneth Kunene, CPS General Secretary, called for ‘an end to decades of systemic abuse and neglect of the Swazi people’.
Launching a campaign called ‘Not another cent for Mswati’ Kunene said, ‘Mswati must not receive another cent from the state or from the funds he is supposed to be “holding in trust for the Swazi nation” – the euphemistic term that is a smokescreen to hide Mswati’s corrupt seizure of national wealth. Mswati’s predecessor, Sobhuza II, created the funds in the 1970s to sustain the absolute monarchy into the future.
‘There is no accountability concerning these funds, no parliamentary oversight of them, and none of them figure in the national budget or in any official information on state resources.
‘The largest such fund, Tibiyo Taka Ngwane is an investment fund with shares in companies, industry, real estate, and tourism. It has 50 percent ownership of Ubombo Sugar Limited, the Swazi branch of the Illovo Sugar Group. It also has shares in Nedbank Swaziland, Swazispa Holdings Ltd., the Swaziland Development and Finance Group, the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corp., and Bhunu Mall.
Kunene estimated the value of Tibiyo at US$2 billion.
He added, ‘The second source of Mswati’s illicit income is Tisuka Taka Ngwane, which is a residential and commercial property developer.
‘Both funds account for some 50 percent of the Swazi economy.’
Kunene said, ‘That poverty and disease are such blights on the lives of the Swazi people is directly and incontrovertibly linked to Mswati’s sources of income.
‘We think it is high time that everything held in trust for the Swazi nation is now handed over to the people. Mswati has done a bad job at holding it in trust for us. The country needs its wealth back, and the CPS is calling on people to demand what is theirs.’
The Red October Campaign also demands that the R400 million (US$40 million) given to the royal family each year from the state budget be immediately cancelled.
‘Mswati and his family are no different than an organized crime syndicate,’ said Kunene. ‘And the way you deal with organized crime is to cut off its access to ready cash. That way it will shrivel up and die. And that’s what we want to see happen with the Mswati regime.’
The CPS said the campaign would focus on ‘making people in Swaziland aware of the vast drain on the country’s finances in order to sustain the Mswati autocracy’.
It will lobby businesses in South Africa and other countries that have operations in Swaziland to refuse to pay any revenue or ‘bribes’ to Mswati.
Kunene said, ‘The CPS will also expose the links between Mswati’s wealth and the degradation and impoverishment of the people of Swaziland. It will point out what the money Mswati gets each month could do if directed to social, health and education needs – all vastly underfunded – and how a strategy to provide free ARVs and TB treatment for all could be funded from Mswati’s ill-gotten millions.’
‘TIMES’ BLOWS COVER ON KING’S WEALTH