Swazi and EU taxpayers pay

Royal family spends millions on private jet

An Airbus that can accommodate 275 passengers will be used for the official visits of the Royal Family of Swaziland. Most of the expenses of buying and refurbishing the plane will be paid by the Swazi taxpayer, with the EU filling the gaps.
22. maj 2017

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Transporting Swaziland’s King Mswati III and his 15 wives around the world costs around €10.000 an hour. His new plane costs €20 million.

1.3 million Swazis pay the highest price for the luxurious life style of their king.  Over 60 percent of all Swazis live in absolute poverty and around 40 percent of the population has been dependent on food aid from the UN for years. Life expectancy is around 40 years, as over 25 percent of the population has HIV/Aids.

It’s good to be king
Being an absolute monarch of the tiny country Swaziland, wedged in between South Africa and Mozambique, Mswati III controls the budget and the treasury. So when he asks for a new plane, the government that he has appointed, gives it to him, no questions asked.

And when the national coffins have to work out on expensive luxury items for its king, it is nice to have sponsors such as the EU and the USA to help with the daily running of the country.

The former finances most of Swaziland’s education sector, the latter the health care system.

White elephant international airport
It has only been two years since King Mswati bought his last plane, paid for by the taxpayer. As the plane was not able to fly non-stop to the USA, however, a new one had to be purchased, as well as a new airport.

Last year, the King Mswati III International Airport  was completed – which cost the nation over E3,42 Billion. The “White Elephant Airport” might have been a more suitable name.

The new airport was admittedly more flamboyant that the old international airport, but as air traffic in Swaziland consists of a small propeller aircraft oscillating between Swaziland and neighbouring South Africa (a trip that takes 45 minutes), perhaps the E2,422 Billion million could have been spent on more urgent matters.

Fighting for democracy
In Swaziland, those who fight for socio-economic justice and democratic reforms are seen, and indeed sentenced in the Mswati-controlled courts, as terrorists. The leaders of the democratic movement are followed everywhere by police.

The European Union is the king’s and the Swazi government’s biggest contributor. We, the EU tacpayers, therefore believe that the EU has an important role to play in promoting and facilitating democratization in Swaziland.

By filling the gaps in the budget that Mswati’s lavish lifestyle have left, the EU indirectly and inadvertently play an important part in keeping Swaziland in the position of the most unequal country in the world, as well as making the struggle for democracy a lot harder.

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