|April 25, 2012
Disbelief over Swazi King's new jet
Claims by King Mswati III of Swaziland that his newly-acquired private jet was a present from 'development partners' has been met with disbelief. Barnabas Dlamini, the man the King personally appointed Prime Minister, said on government-controlled radio that the King had been given a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 twin-engine jet as a birthday gift, 'from development partners and friends of the king, to be used by their majesties for travels abroad'. No cost for the plane was given but for comparison a 1966 version of the aircraft is being offered for sale on the Internet at US$592,000.
The news of the King's jet was received with disbelief. Ntombenhle Khathwane of the Swaziland Diaspora Platform, a human rights group based in South Africa, said that no development partner would want to be anonymous, by their nature development agencies were transparent. Hence they demanded the release of full details of the donor and the value of the jet. Zakhele Mabuza, spokesperson for the banned People's United Democratic Movement, accused Mswati of using taxpayer money for the jet. He said, 'He was secretly using it and only now do they feel bold enough to admit it. We have long said that this monarchy is a huge drain to the economy.'
(Swazi Media Commentary, Gaborone)