PRESS RELEASE: April 3, 2012
KING MSWATI III’s BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS
The Swaziland Diaspora Platform (SDP) is appalled at news that His Majesty King Mswati III will be celebrating his birthday later this month on April 19th.
Swaziland is in the throes of an economic crisis which deepens by the day; there are no increments on civil servant salaries over the next few years, the imposition of 14% Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services beginning April 1, 2012 has already sparked a public outcry amongst the working class and small business owners. Our view is that VAT can only deepen poverty for the majority of the population which currently lives below the poverty line. Already, thousands of people have been retrenched from their jobs over the past few months while some companies have shut down, which is a clear indication that we are in dire straits as a nation.
To even consider a birthday celebration in such crippling economic times for the country is inconceivable. It is even more shocking that citizens, already grappling with the tough economic realities are being ‘requested’ to contribute funds, services, and cattle for this celebration.
Going ahead with the King’s birthday celebration only confirms that Swaziland has a government and leader that does not care for and is not accountable to its people. It also confirms the wasteful spending which characterizes the Swaziland government, as well as the fact that the first priority for government is the King and not the people.
Even if His Majesty uses funds from his personal fortune (reported by Forbes to be at $100million US dollars) for his birthday party, we Swazis in the Diaspora would view this as irresponsible of him as a leader; to be spending millions of Emalangeni on a day’s event while the country needs those millions to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people facing the harsh realities of poverty, disease and unemployment.
We therefore call on government to reconsider this celebration and channel all available national funds to national needs and priorities.
Statement issued by SDP
Ntombenhle Khathwane: +27 72 327 6497 (Spokesperson)
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