Fury as King Mswati buys royal family 120 BMWs, 19 Rolls Royces at Sh1.7 billion
King Mswati III of Swaziland has come under fire after purchasing 120 BMW X3 SUVs, BMW 540 sedans and 19 Rolls Royce cars for the use of his royal family.
The luxurious fleet of cars meant for his wives and children are said to have been delivered to his kingdom on Thursday 7 November.
According to The Times, the purchase cost around Sh1.7 billion.
In a statement issued by the Minister of Public Works and Transport Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe, the purchase is in accordance with the government policy of replacing government vehicles after every five years.
"Taking this opportunity to inform the public that it has taken delivery of a fleet of cars and motorcycles for escort duties.
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"The process to replace the existing fleet started in 2016, consistent with the prevailing government policy of replacing government vehicles after five years," said Ndwandwe.
Infuriated by the king’s move, the opposition party, the People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) accompanied by the Swazi people took to the streets in protest, accusing the king of draining public funds and demanding a salary increment.
According to the Pudemo general secretary Wandile Dludlu, the King is ignorant of the problems affecting citizens and continues to spoil his royal family, made up of 15 wives and 23 children.
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"In Swaziland, public sector workers have not received salary adjustments in three years and the health system has totally collapsed, rendering the poorest of the poor vulnerable.
"Tertiary institutions have also closed down due to student unrest caused by the regime’s failure to cater for their tuition fees, text book fees, accommodation and other expenses," he said.
Dludlu accused the king of arrogance and disregard for the poor as he has continued to satisfy his family’s wants and not the peoples need.
"According to reports, some of these cars are for his motorcade and the exclusive use of his children. To say this is a blatant display of arrogance and total disregard of the poor people of Swaziland’s feelings by the monarch would be an understatement.
"He is basically showing them a middle finger and proving to all and sundry that he is a law unto himself," he continued.
In 2018, King Mswati III renamed the country Eswatini to mark his 50th birthday.