Swaziland’s King Mswati III has failed his people in their moment of crisis.
This week the Swaziland Central Bank failed to raise enough money on the financial markets to pay public sector salaries. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned of ‘social upheaval’, if the economy wasn’t mended quickly.
But instead of leading the kingdom he rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, King Mswati’s only solution is to ‘pray’.
The Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, in a report yesterday (30 January 2011), headlined King sees no need to panic, said, ‘The King gave the country some hope that it would rise above these economic challenges. He said there was no reason to panic, urging his people to stay calm and focused. “Let us praise God, celebrate when you face challenges. Be like an eagle that faces the lightning and let us trust in God who has all our answers, God has all our blessings,” he said.
The King was leading a prayer session at Lozitha Palace for the kingdom’s survival in the face of the current economic crisis.
The Times Sunday reported that the King said Swaziland should pray earnestly to God because He rewards those who diligently seek him.
The Times Sunday said, ‘His Majesty left women in tears, shouting Hallelujah and others speaking in tongues when preaching.’
This was the only public statement the King has made directly to his subjects about the present financial calamity facing his kingdom.
There was a political overtone to the prayer meeting. Pastor Griffiths Dlamini told the congregation and the King, ‘People in power usually find a scapegoat when there is a crisis. They may use you, Your Majesty, as a scapegoat, not wanting to face the challenges, thus setting you against your people.’
Pastor Griffiths also prayed to God to bestow power upon the King to detect liars and detractors.
Without a hint of irony, Rev Obed Mavuso, representing the League of Swaziland Churches, ‘blasted those who pretend to be loyal to the king yet their intention was to benefit personally.
‘He said these people came to the King kneeling down and showing fake respect yet they were not what they pretended to be,’ the Times Sunday reported.
But, despite all this hyperbole, even the Times Sunday felt the need to bring its readers down to earth a bit, reporting, ‘Currently government is failing to finance some of her capital projects. Ministries have been urged to cut budgets by 24 percent. The government has introduced a voluntary exit package for civil servants who have served for 15 years and above, and are above the age of 45.
‘The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advised government to lay off 10 000 workers.’
After the prayer meeting the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said in a statement, ‘Swazi people need to force the King out of their country. This man will not be affected one bit by the country’s economic collapse.’
SSN said government departments had been forced to cut budgets by 24 percent, but expenditure by the Royal Family remained unaffected by this and would continue to increase.
SSN said, ‘All this expenditure is meant to pamper a family that has its own personal sources of income both within the country and outside. This means that even if the government would no longer have enough to give to the King he would still be able to live in opulence.’