Posted on February 14, 2005

Ten BMWs for Swazi King’s Wives

BBC News, Feb. 14

Swaziland’s King Mswati III has bought 10 new BMW series 5 cars for his wives.

Swaziland’s media reports that it has cost him $820,000. The 36-year-old king frequently hits the headlines with stories about his lavish lifestyle.

Two months ago, Africa’s only remaining absolute monarch was criticised for buying himself a $500,000 luxury car.

Swaziland has one of the world’s highest Aids rates and about a third of his subjects rely on food aid handouts.

“This is basically an upgrade of the ones they have been using,” a royal official told the Swazi Times

The Maybach car, which the king bought in December, has a television, DVD player, 21-speaker surround-sound system, fridge, cordless telephone and sterling silver champagne flutes.

Street protests

As well as 10 wives, the king has three fiancees.

In recent years, he has asked parliament for $15m to build a palace for each of his spouses and $45m to buy a royal jet.

Street protests led to him abandoning the plans to buy a luxury jet.

Swaziland’s unemployment rate stands at 40% while almost 70% of the country’s one-million population live on an average daily income of $1 or less.