Mswati III of Swaziland

Mswati III of Swaziland

name = Mswati III of Swaziland
title = King of Swaziland
reign = 25 April 1986 – present
coronation = 25 April 1986
predecessor = Sobhuza II
successor =
suc-type = Heir-Apparent
heir =
consort = 14 wives concurrently
issue = 23 children
royal house = House of Dlamini
royal anthem =
father = Sobhuza II
mother = Ntombi
date of birth = birth date and age|1968|04|19|df=y
place of birth = Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital, Swaziland
date of death =
place of death =
buried =

Mswati III (born Makhosetive on April 19, 1968) of Swaziland is the king of Swaziland, and head of the Swazi Royal Family. In 1986, he succeeded his father, Sobhuza II, as absolute monarch; and in 2005, his role was modified only slightly as a constitutional monarch in this small south African state.Bearak, Barry. [ "In Destitute Swaziland, Leader Lives Royally,"] "New York Times." September 6, 2008.]

Early life

He is one of many sons of King Sobhuza II (who had 70 wives and at the time of his death left over 1000 grandchildren) and the only child of Ntombi Tfwala, also known as "Inkhosikati" LaTfwala, one of the King's younger wives. He was born at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital, four months before Swaziland attained independence from Britain. When he and his mother were discharged from the hospital they went to live at one of King Sobhuza's residences of Etjeni near Masundwini Palace. His birth name was Makhosetive (King of Nations).

As a young prince, Makhosetive attended Masundwini Primary School and Lozitha Palace School. He sat for the Swaziland Primary Certificate examination in December 1982 at Phondo Royal Residence and got a First Class with merit in Mathematics and English. He developed a great interest in the royal guard, becoming the first young cadet to join the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF).

When King Sobhuza II died in 1982, the Great Council of State ( the "Liqoqo") selected the 14-year-old prince Makhosetive to be the next king. [Simelane, Hamilton Sipho. (2005). [,M1 "Swaziland: Reign of Mswati III," in "Encyclopedia of African History," p. 1528.] ] For the next four years two wives of the late King Sobhuza II, Queen Dzeliwe Shongwe (1982–1983) and Queen Ntombi Tfwala (1983–1986), served as regent while he continued his education in England, attending Sherborne School, before he was called back to take over.


He was introduced as Crown Prince in September 1983 and was crowned King on April 25, 1986, aged 18 years and 6 days, and thus making him the youngest reigning monarchFact|date=February 2007. The king and his mother, whose title is "Indlovukazi" (Great She-Elephant), rule jointly.

Today he is Africa's last absolute monarch in the sense that he has the power to choose the prime minister, other top government posts and top traditional posts. Even though he makes the appointments, he still has to get special advice from the queen mother and council, for example when he chooses the prime minister. When it comes to appointing the cabinet, he gets advice from the prime minister. He inherited a rule by decree, but did restore the nation's Parliament, which had been dissolved by his father due to the chaos of the multiparty system, that was perceived as breaking the country apart at the time considering that the country had just got its independence.

The country has its own type of democracy called the "Tinkhundla" system and has a constitution which allows freedom of assembly and free speech for both the media and the public. The Swaziland media in conferences with other regional media houses (MISA) says it is free to report as it pleases.

In an attempt to mitigate the HIV and AIDS pandemic, the Mswati tried to intervene in the life of his subjects in a unique manner. In 2001, the King used his traditional powers to invoke a time-honoured chastity rite ("umcwasho", which encouraged all Swazi maidens to abstain from sexual relations for five years. This rite (re-introduced after suggestion from NGOs), banned sexual relations for Swazis under 18 years of age from 9 September 2001 and 19 August 2005 , but in 2005, he violated this decree when he married a 17-year-old girl, who became his 13th wife. As per custom, he was fined a cow by members of her regiment, which he duly paid.


In Swaziland no king can appoint his successor. Only an independent special traditional Council called the Liqoqo decides which of the wives shall be "Great Wife" and "Indlovukazi" (She-Elephant / Queen Mother). The son of this "Great Wife" will automatically become the next king.

The "Great Wife" must only have one son (arguably) and be of good character. Her character affects her child's chances of ascending to the kingship. According to Swazi culture, a son cannot be the heir if his mother is not of good standing. She must not bear the maiden name of Nkhosi-Dlamini and she must not be a ritual wife (i.e. the eldest son is never the heir).Wayua, Muli. [ "A king, his culture, his wives,"] "Daily Nation" (Nairobi, Kenya). December 7, 2002.]


The King currently has thirteen wives and 23 children. A Swazi King's first two wives are chosen for him by the national councillors. These two have special functions in rituals and their sons can never claim Kingship. The first wife must be a member of the Matsebula clan, the second of the Motsa clan. According to tradition, he can only marry his fiancées after they have fallen pregnant, proving they can bear heirs. Until then, they are termed "liphovela", or "brides".

In traditional Swazi culture, the King is expected to marry a woman from every clan in order to cement relationships with each part of Swaziland. This means that the King must have many wives. In September 2008, Mswati III may choose his 14th wife. [Ndzamela, Phakamisa. [ "Bare-breasted virgins compete for Swaziland king,"] Reuters. September 1, 2008.]

* "Inkhosikati" (Queen) LaMatsebula—Ritual wife. Has a degree in Psychology.
**Son: "HRH Prince Sicalo"
**Son: "Prince Maveletiveni"
* "Inkhosikati" LaMotsa—Ritual wife. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador since 1996. [United Nations Development Programme: [ "UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Her Royal Highness Inkhosikati LaMotsa, speaks at the launch of the MDGs at Matsanjeni,"] 2007.]
**Son: "Prince Majahonkhe" (1991)
**Son: "Prince Buhlebenkhosi"
**Son: "Prince Lusuku"
*1986 "Inkhosikati" LaMbikiza—(born 16 June 1969 as Sibonelo Mngomezulu) Daughter of Percy Mngomezulu; an advocate, received her degree from UNISA. LaMbikiza is involved in the Swazi Royal Initiative to Combat AIDS (RICA). The initiative involves the recording of songs by Swazi, South African and international artists and the proceeds of the sales are allocated to programmes aimed at helping people affected by AIDS.
**Daughter: "Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini" (1987)
**Son: "Prince Lindaninkosi Dlamini" (Lindani) (1989)
* "Inkhosikati" LaNgangaza —(born Carol Dlamini) [Patron of world organisation "Hospice at Home" previously headed by Princess Diana]
**Daughter: "Princess Temaswati Dlamini" (1988)
**Daughter: "Princess Tiyandza Dlamini" (1992)
**Daughter: "Princess Tebukhosi Dlamini" (1994)
* Putsoana Hwala—(born 1974 ??) Known as "Inkhosikati" LaHwala She left the king on June 24, 2004 and moved to South Africa.Ndiweni, Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni. [,,2-11-1447_1552577,00.html "Swazi queens revolt,"] July 4, 2004.]
**Son: "Prince Bandzile" (1990)
**Daughter: "Princess Temashayina" (1994)
* Delisa Magwaza—(born 1974 ??) Known as "Inkhosikati" LaMagwaza. She also left the king in 2004, after having an affair.
**Daughter: "Princess Temtsimba Dlamini" (1992)
**Daughter: "Princess Sakhizwe Dlamini" (1999)
*August 2000 "Inkhosikati" LaMasango—(born 1981 ?? as Senteni Masango)
**Daughter: "Princess Sentelweyinhosi" (2000)
**Daughter: "Princess Sibusezweni" (2003)
*December 1998 "Inkhosikati" LaGija—(born Angel Dlamini)
**Daughter: "Princess Yenziwe" (2003)
*June 2002 "Inkhosikati" LaMagongo—(born Nontsetselo Magongo) Niece of Chief Mlobokazana Fakudze, Chief at Mgazini.
**Son: "Prince Mcwasho" (2002)
*November 2002 "Inkhosikati" LaMahlangu—(born 1984 as Zena Soraya Mahlangu) (see below)
**Son: "Prince Saziwangaye" (2004)
*May 2005 "Inkhosikati" LaNtentesa (born 1981 Noliqhwa Ayanda Ntentesa), betrothed November 2002, married in a traditional function held at Ludzidzini Royal Residence May 26 2005.
*June 2005 "Inkhosikati" LaDube (born Nothando Dube) a Miss Teen Swaziland finalist at age 16, chosen at the Umhlanga (Reed Dance) ceremony on August 30, 2004 while she was a grade 9 pupil at Mater Dorolosa High School. Married 11 June 2005.
**Daughter: "Princess Makhosothando" (2005)
**Son: "Prince Betive" (2007)
*14 April 2007 "Inkhosikati LaNkambule" (born Phindile Nkambule), chosen at the Umhlanga (Reed Dance) ceremony in 2005.
**Daughter: "Princess Buhlebetive" (2007)

Reed Dance

The Reed Dance is a traditional opportunity for Swaziland's maidens to pay tribute to the Queen Mother. Although the King has used the occasion to choose wives a few times, the ceremony is not about him primarily. The king's own children partake in this event.

The annual Umhlanga Reed Dance is an assembly of about 20,000 young maidens (recently reaching 100,000) who bring tall (4 m) reeds to present to the Queen Mother. These reeds are then used to build windbreaks around the Queen Mother's residence. The Reed Dance usually lasts for a week and he only attends the last day as a sign of respect to his mother. He also uses the occasion to thank the young girls who have travelled long distances to attend the event by slaughtering cows and presenting them with a feast before they return home

After he selected his 11th wife (an 18-year-old girl chosen at the Reed Dance), the mother of the girl spoke out saying the girl was being held against her will. After remaining unseen inside the royal guest house for two weeks, however, the girl emerged admitting that she had consented to marrying the king.

A popular garment is worn at the Reed Dance known as an "Mswa-Tee" (a play on words of 'Mswati' and 't-shirt') by tourists. The shirts are usually in traditional Swazi colours, with a portrait of the king on the front. These are especially with men in the audience, who also wear the image on traditional robes The maidens themselves wear what is known as "umgagco" and "indlamu" or "sidvwashi". The members of the royal family wear "sichobo" instead of the indlamu. Mswa-Tees are also very popular with tourists.


Mswati's reign has brought some changes in the government and political transformation, but in service of one objective -- strengthening a perpetuating the traditional order. Political transformation and democratization have been construed as threats to the monarchy. The king's reluctance to allow political participation within the framework of a modern state structure has positioned Swaziland in a precarious balance as a majority of African states are continuing to evolve away from absolutism. [Simelane, [,M1 p. 1530.] ]

Mswati has been criticized for his lifestyle, especially by the media. In 2005 he purchased a $500,000 luxury car which it turned out was paid for from his own pocket. According to the former king's office CEO, the King of Swaziland earns a high salary as Head of State, has investments within the country and elsewhere, owns an unspecified amount of shares in different companies within Swaziland. His moves towards a western-type democracy have been slow, and calls for democracy by banned political parties keep rising. A few years ago, moves were made to buy him and the Queen mother an executive jet, but this was abandoned because the legislature was totally against the idea.

The King has received large amounts of criticism for his mishandling of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has devastated much of Swaziland. In the year 2000, he announced in a parliamentary debate that all HIV+ people should be "sterilized and branded". In 2001, the King's "umcwasho" response to the health crisis produced unanticipated consequences -- an increase in prostitution, decline in marriage, and an increase in abortions and infanticide. [ [ "Sex ban for young Swazi women provokes side effects,"] afrol News. November 26, 2001.] At a time when more than one third of the country was HIV+ hunger was spreading [ [ "No luxury jet for Swazi King,"] afrol News. October 18, 2002.] , King Mswati attempted to use $45 million of the government's money to buy a private jet. The amount was equivalent to the amount the government budgeted for health care for the entire population during a two-year period. [ [ "Swazi King spends two health budgets on airplane,"] afrol News. July 7, 2002.]

For a number of years now the international media and community have labeled the King of Swaziland an “absolute monarch”, and tended to regard him as a dictator. Supporters of the King argue that although he is to some extent not bound by the Constitution, he is bound by tradition and shares power with the Queen Mother, and is therefore not an "absolute" monarch. Supporters of the King also claim that both the King and the Tinkhundla system are popular in Swaziland, and represent the wishes of the people.

An unofficial referendum was held by the constitutional draft committee headed by Prince David during the process of drafting the constitution. Before then, two more were held by Vusela, a committee that was headed by Prince Mahlalengangeni, and another unofficial referendum, which was headed by Prince Mangaliso. However critics argue that there has never been an actual or official referendum which was held prior to the introduction of the new constitution.

The polemics that surround the Swazi Royal Family do not end with Mswati. In January 2006, Mswati's elder brother, Prince Mbuyisa Dlamini, was sent to jail for the rape of his nine-year-old niece, his sister's grandchild. [ [,6119,2-11-1447_1866908,00.html "King's brother jailed for rape,"] "Beeld" (Praetoria). January 20, 2006.]

In August 2008, Swazi women marched through the capital protesting the cost of a shopping trip taken abroad by nine of the king's 13 wives. The demonstration was organised by Positive Living, a non-governmental organization for women with AIDS. [ [ "Swazi anger at royal wives' trip,"] BBC News. August 21, 2008.]

LaMahlangu controversy

High School student Zena Mahlangu disappeared from her school in October 2002. Her mother, Lindiwe Dlamini, learned that her daughter had been taken by two men, Qethuka Sgombeni Dlamini and Tulujani Sikhondze, and she reported the matter to the police. Some time later, she was told that her daughter was at the Royal Palace at Ludzidzini and was being prepared to be the next wife of the king. [Amnesty International: [ "Swaziland: Human rights at risk in a climate of political and legal uncertainty,"Index No. AFR 55/004/2004.] July 29, 2004.] She demanded that her daughter be returned to her custody, and threatened to sue.

Among the criteria for a future "Inkhosikati", the girl must not be disabled, or a twin; Liphovela LaMahlangu was the other half of a brother-sister twin set.

Zena was 18 and had agreed to be taken by the King, but remained silent. The matter went to the High Court, but Swaziland Attorney-General Phesheya Dlamini intervened. [ [ "Swaziland's Royal Bridal Mess,"] CBS News. November 4, 2002.] Mahlangu was announced as engaged to King Mswati in November, and she stayed at the Royal Palace. She was officially made King Mswati's bride in a traditional marriage ceremony in May 2004 and the mother officially dropped the case after it became clear that Zena had gone to the palace out of her own free will and had no intention of returning home because she considered herself to be in love with the King.

ee also

* Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-IV), 2008.
* Without the king



* Ginidza, Zodwa R. (1986). [ "Umntfwana!: A Pictorial Biography of the New King of Swaziland."] Swaziland: Macmillan Swaziland National Pub. Co. 10-ISBN 0-333-40303-7, 13-ISBN 978-0-333-40303-7 [ OCLC 16874145]
* Levin, Richard and Hugh MacMillan. (2003). [,M1 "Swaziland: Recent History,"] in [ "Africa South of the Sahara 2004."] London: Routledge. 1-ISBN 1-857-43183-9; 13-ISBN 978-1-857-43183-4
* Simelane, Hamilton Sipho. (2005). [,M1 "Swaziland: Reign of Mswati III," pp. 1528] -1530, in [ "Encyclopedia of African History,"] Kevin Shillington, ed. London: CRC Press. 10-ISBN 1-579-58245-1; 13-ISBN 978-1-579-58245-6

External links

* [ Prominent People: King Mswati III]
* [ Swazi King's Birthday features]
* [ Swazi Royal Family Tree]
* [ BBC News: Troubled King Mswati]
* [ Swaziland king picks wife - BBC Video]
* [ King of Swaziland Dotcom]
* [ King Mswati III's address to the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly] , September 25, 2008
* [ An Extravagant Ruler of a Modest Kingdom - New York Times Movie review]
* [ In Destitute Kingdom, Ruler Lives Like a King]

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