Swazi King Spends £360,000 on Car While His People Starve

Thulani Mthethwa, AP, Dec. 14

Opposition leaders in Swaziland slammed King Mswati III yesterday for spending 4 million lilangeni (£360,000) on a luxury car at a time of food shortages in his impoverished, Aids-stricken country.

Africa’s last absolute monarch bought a Daimler-Chrysler Maybach 62 last week, the Mbabane Times on Sunday reported. Only four of the vehicles have been sold in southern Africa, a Daimler Chrysler spokesman told the paper. “It is puzzling how a head of state could buy a car for US$500,000 when his nation is surviving on food aid,” said Mario Masuku, of the opposition People’s United Democratic Movement. “[It] would send wrong signals to the donor community.”

Telephone calls to the royal spokesman went unanswered yesterday.

The 36-year-old monarch has already purchased a stretch Rolls Royce and a fleet of BMW and Mercedes Benz vehicles for his family. But when he tried to purchase a luxury jet last year, street protests forced him to abandon the plan.

About 66 per cent of the population of 1 million live below the poverty line. The World Food Programme was feeding 150,000 people this year after a drought.

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