February 13 2005 at 04:09PM
Mbabane - Swazi King Mswati III has purchased 10 new BMWs for the royal household - two months after buying a super-expensive sedan for himself while his subjects continue living in abject poverty, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
Africa's last absolute monarch spent some five million emalangeni (R5-million) on BMWs for his wives, the Mbabane-based Times Sunday reported.
"It is true that new cars have been purchased for emakhosikati (queens) to his majesty... This is basically an upgrade of the ones they have been using," the chief executive officer of the king's office, Roy Fanourakis, told the newspaper.
This comes after it emerged in December that Mswati had bought himself a $500 000 (about R3-million) Daimler Chrysler flagship Maybach 62 as his debt-ridden country continues battling Aids and crippling poverty.
The car features a television receiver, dvd player, 21-speaker surround sound system, refrigerator, cordless telephone, heated steering wheel, interior pollen and dust filter, golf bag and sterling silver champagne flutes.
The 36-year-old King Mswati is no stranger to controversy and frequently hits the headlines with stories of the lavish lifestyle he leads with his 11 wives and two teenage fiancees.
On his birthday in April last year, he bought 10 BMW seven series vehicles for himself and some of his wives. This year he is expected to spend some six million emalangeni (about R6-million) on his birthday party on April 25.
He is also building 10 new palaces for his wives at a cost of 100 million emalangeni.
Swaziland's government owes its suppliers more than 150 million emalangeni which dates back to 2002 and the country's budget deficit stands at 800 million emalangeni.
Swaziland, a small country wedged between South African and Mozambique with a population of one million, has the highest Aids rate in the world at 38,8 percent and about a third of the impoverished nation relies on food aid for survival. - Sapa-AFP