King Mswati’s new private jet: Why Swaziland MPs need to go even further

Members of Parliament in Southern Africa’s Swaziland have taken a bold step to prevent the kingdom’s autocratic monarch, King Mswati III, from acquiring an exorbitant US $6.4 million private plane. The money was originally allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the kingdom’s annual budget announced in February, 2016.

According to the members of parliament, the allocated money for the jet ‘is a waste of resources as there are other options that can cost far less.’ Even though they decided to stop the process to buy this particular jet, they have every intention of allocating a cheaper jet. What would have been better, however, is the decision to stop the process altogether as the people need the money to enable them live better and build a better community.

The new jet was supposed to replace the DC-9 jet which the king already owns. It seems inhumane that in a country currently going through a severe drought and in need of about US$16 million to tackle hunger, the government is willing to exploit public funds in order to cater to one man’s vain tendencies.

However, King Mswati III, who is known for his lavish lifestyle, may take this as an affront but, the move by the members of parliament show an uncommon commitment on their part to the Swazi people, a trait that MPs from other African countries can emulate. The people have to come first every time and public funds should be always be used to improve their lives. It is reported that about 300,000 people in Swaziland need drought relief while the citizens residing in rural areas are in danger of severe malnutrition.

In July 2015, it was reported that as many as a quarter of the Kingdom’s 1.3 million population were malnourished. This was during the same period when the MPs agreed to reserve a certain sum to purchase a new jet for King Mswati III as the DC-9 had become ‘too small for him.’

Why does King Mswati III, the absolute monarch that denied his own people food as a way of punishing them for passing a vote of no confidence against his rule, deserve a new jet amidst the current hunger crisis? The members of parliament in Swaziland need to take this bold step even further by diverting the money reserved for a smaller jet for a shallow minded king to providing food for the hungry.

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