September 29, 2023

Absolute monarchy in Africa – The king must go in Eswatini – News


Eswatini is the last absolute monarchy in Africa. King Mswati III. There bent for 37 years. He lives a life of luxury while more than half of the population lives below the poverty line. But Mswati’s criticism is rising. Especially now that the general election is approaching.

Gcebile Kunene, 29, is having lunch at a restaurant in the small town of Buhleni, opposite one of Eswatini’s many royal residences. She often visited the royal residence next door: “I go to every cultural event. I love my culture!”


He’s ruled everything in the tiny state of Eswatini since 1986: King Mswati III, here on a state visit to Zimbabwe.


The people of Eswatini agree. King Mswati III. He is the guarantor and embodiment of Eswatini culture, which is very important to the population. The topless young women dancing in the thousands before the king at the annual cane dance is perhaps the only image known to the wider public of Eswatini. But when it comes to culture, the young woman’s joy for the King ends here at the lunch table: “Culture is the only thing that goes well in Eswatini. If we talk politically, we are afraid of getting killed or going to jail,” says the young woman.

Human rights ignored

This fear is justified. Well-known opposition activist and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was shot dead on his couch at the beginning of the year. The brutal killing came after King Mswati warned activists calling for political reforms “not to complain if they are killed by mercenaries.”

Byblos Konin.


Jsybil Koonen was unable to find work in Eswatini.

SRF/Anna Leimenmeyer

The king cannot handle demands for more political openness. Two years ago, he faced the fiercest pro-democracy protests of his era and they were brutally crushed. There was also a political activist who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons. We met the law student at her university’s campus in Manzini, the largest city in the country.

Eleven ladies and luxury cars

Resentment against King Mswati does not just come from the suppression of human rights in Eswatini, as the 26-year-old explains: “Our parents only fund the king’s luxurious life. A life of luxury while we starve.”

While the student had to suspend her studies for two years because her family could not pay the tuition fees, King Mswati III. With his eleven current wives, they live in the lap of luxury. Rolls-Royce cars can often be seen cruising the streets of the small kingdom. At the same time, more than half of the 1.2 million people live in poverty. Nowhere else in the world is the rate of HIV infection so high, and health and education systems failing. The absolute monarch determines everything, but does not care about anything.

Entrance to Mswati's residence in Pohleni.


This is where the king lives: the entrance to Mswati’s house in Polene.

SRF/Anna Leimenmeyer

That is why he must go, according to the student: “I want to overthrow Mswati. Our country would not be like this if he were not in power.” But King Mswati III. He made it clear that he was not ready for dialogue. And so, in the next election, the people of Eswatini have only a choice to have a say in what little they can or to take to the streets again, as they did two years ago.

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