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

AR Articles on Africa
The Agony of Africa (Dec. 2003)
Why is Africa Poor? (Jan. 1992)
Light on the Dark Continent (Oct. 1992)
More news stories on Africa
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.

Original article

(Posted on December 16, 2004)

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