Mbabane: For each financial year, tax payers are bankrolling some of late King Sobhuza II 210 children and grandchildren to the tune of E42 million.
This effectively means, in the past 10 years, emaSwati, through government have funded some members of the royal family with over E400 million.
This amount is paid through the King’s office and is released around April or early May every year. For those children who have passed on, the money is shared among the late king’s grandchildren.
Independent News has reliably learnt that each of the late King’s children is given a sum of E200 000 every year. For those who passed away, their inheritance is shared among their children who are King Sobhuza’s grandchildren. This amount paid to each of the late king’s children or grandchildren sum up to E42 million a year.
Among King Sobhuza II’s children are Princes and Princesses who occupy significant positions in the government from being Ministers, Members of Parliament, senior government officials, Principal Secretaries, Chief Executive Officers, Board of Directors to name a few and they are the very same people who get this fat cheques every year as their allowances.
The King’s Office is the upholder institution for royal emoluments and it had been allocated a whopping E411 million for the financial year 2021/2022. According to the Government Budget estimates for the years – April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2024, the King’s Office will be entitled to the same amount as its budget.
Moreover, the statutory budget which is Head 1 in the Budget estimates also reflects that royal grants and subsidies are also entitled to a budget of E411 000 000 and will not change for the next three years.
When combined this two royal budgets takes about 3.3 percent of the overall E24.8 billion national budget as announced by the Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg in February.
Notably, the budget estimates indicate an increase from what was allocated in the 2019/20 financial year. That year, the King’s Office received a budget allocation of E354 million.
Eswatini News, a sister newspaper to the Times of Eswatini reported on Saturday April 10, 2021 that some of the late King’s grandchild were in loggerheads over the E200 000 allowance that is released by the King’s office yearly for their late father who was the Prince to the late King Sobhuza II.
It was reported that the Prince died in 1989 and the money is still coming through and it is shared among his children. The name of the Prince could not be named as the matter was still under investigation. It was reported that the cause of the dispute at hand was that since the death of their father, three children of the prince had been sharing the E200 000 among themselves and their mother. This literally means they were each getting E50 000 which was deposited straight into their personal accounts.
The children told the Eswatini News that after the death of their mother they received E66 000 each because they were now three of them left as the surviving children of the late prince.
One of the King’s grandchildren said the matter was discussed extensively at the King’s office. She said it was a pity that this matter would be raised every year around the time when they were about to get the grant.
King’s Office Chief Officer Mgwagwa Gamedze said he was not in a position to comment on such matters as they are at family level and they were beyond his office’s jurisdiction. He said his office carries out administrative duties and does not scrutinise the legitimacy of beneficiaries.
According to the Swaziland National Trust Commission, King Sobhuza II married 70 wives, who gave him 210 children between 1920 and 1970. About 180 children survived infancy, and 97 sons and daughters are reportedly living. At his death he had more than 1000 grandchildren.
King Sobhuza II was a man well-known for his eccentric life and times. His reign is said to be the longest for any recorded modern African ruler – 82 years and 254 days. He was the longest-reigning monarch in recorded history.
Despite spending so much on these personal allowances, the country has been struggling to procure more COVID-19 vaccines instead was still waiting for more donations from international bodies like the COVAX facility.
Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi had been announcing that the country has set apart E200 million to procure those vaccines. On April 9, 2021, the Minister said the country had received a donation of over E200 million (US$15.8 million) from the Kirsh Foundation and E22.5 million (US$1.5 million) from the Republic of China in Taiwan. All this funds were set to procure more vaccines, however on a later staged the Minister said there was still no assurance to when the doses will arrive in the country.
With the 32 000 doses that were received in early March, only about 2 000 doses were left which means out of the approximately out of the 1.5 million people in the country only 2000 have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Nevertheless even those who were vaccinated, they were still not entirely safe as they needed to get a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine for it to be functional in their bodies.
The Minister of Health had recently admitted that it was not yet clear to when the country will receive more doses. This can be attributed to the fact that India, where Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are manufactured had recently halted exporting vaccines due to resurgence of the COVID-19 in that country. This means even those who have been vaccinated might be more or less the same with those who did not vaccinate if they do not get the second dose on time. The second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be administered after eight (8) to twelve weeks after the first dose for it to be effective.
Countries like South Africa had actually invested so much money on their vaccination roll-out. For instance, South Africa had procured millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccines which had proven to be more effective compared to AstraZeneca.
When sought for comment, one of the legislators, Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane of Siphofaneni Inkhundla said in as much as he cannot make a solid comment on the specific issue until he read and follow that issue adequately. Nonetheless Simelane found it worth it to pour his pain and he stated that in this country there were people who go for days without food in their stomach, who sleep without a roof, who travel kilometres to access water, whose sons and daughters do not have access to meaningful education(secondary and high school), the list goes-on.
“We have this pathetic situation on the ground not because the resources of this country cannot cover the needs of our poor, but mostly because the resources of this great nation cannot satisfy the ever deep pockets of the rich and greedy elite of our society,” said Simelane.
Simelane said the elite group forgets that when God created the rich soils of this country, the rivers, the minerals (diamond, gold, diamond, coal, and iron ore) and everything the country have, He did not have only them in mind but he had the entire citizenry and generations to come. He was providing for all Emaswati that are to live in this country but they decide to feed their selfish ends at the expense of the marginalised masses. “We need to share the resources across all classes, creed and tribal groupings,”
Simelane said we cannot stop believing that one day the sun shall rise and the poor shall dance to their true happiness.
Ngwane National Liberation Congress (NNLC) President Sibongile Mazibuko said she believes that the Princes and Princesses do not deserve this amount of money mainly because most of them are in a numerous boards where they are also earning a fortune. Mazibuko said it would be fair for everyone to earn money they worked for because the aforementioned money is taxpayers’ money. She said the royalty is costing the nation in literal sense.
Discussion about this post