King Mswati III of Swaziland has collected about E40 million (US$3 million) to host a lavish SADC Heads of State summit at a time when his government could release only E22 million of the E305 million earmarked for drought relief in this year’s national budget.
The King, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is to assume the chair of the Southern African Development Community on 17 August 2016.
About 300,000 of the Swazi 1.3 million population face severe hunger as drought hits the southern African region. Despite this, the King called for donations from parastatal organisations, businesses and overseas’ companies to allow him to host what the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, called ‘an epic event’.
Over the past 18 months, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) has received support from UNISON to build international support for human rights and democracy in Swaziland, the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) reported.
ACTSA organised and hosted a visit to the UK by Vincent Ncongwane, the then Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), in March 2015.
The TUC reported, ‘Vincent met with the then Minister for Africa and senior officials at the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as with a wide range of civil society organisations, including trade unions. Vincent was able to use these meetings to stress the need for the UK and Commonwealth to step up their engagement with the Government of Swaziland so that it fulfils its international obligations. He also called on bilateral and multilateral agencies to more actively support the work of Swazi civil society.’