Mswati III, King of Swaziland
Mswati III (born Makhosetive on April 19, 1968) of Swaziland is the king of Swaziland, and head of the Swazi Royal Family. He succeeded his late father, Sobhuza II, in 1986. Early life
He was the second of 210 sons of the elderly 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 Inkosikati LaTfwala, one of the King’s younger wives. He was born at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital, only four months before Swaziland attained independence from Britain, and after 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 his father died of pneumonia in 1982, the royal council chose the 14-year-old prince Makhosetive to be the next king. For the next four years two female relatives served as regent, Queen Dzeliwe Shongwe (1982–1983) and Queen Ntombi Tfwala (1983–1986) while he continued with his education, attending the English Sherborne School.He later went to school in South Africa before he was ordered 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 monarch. The king and his mother, whose title is Indovukazi (Great She-Elephant), rule jointly.
Today he is Africa’s last absolute monarch. He inherited a rule by decree, but did restore the nation’s parliament, which had been dissolved by his father. The country is however,slowly becoming more democratised as seen by the enactment of the Swazi constitution(2005) after a long constitutional drafting process.
Mswati’s rule has been criticised for ignoring the growing problems of his subjects while lavishly spending his nation’s wealth on his own personal comfort, including buying a fleet of royal limousines, a luxury jet that cost a quarter of the nation’s annual budget (he eventually did not buy it after his subjects complained), and building and renovating palaces to house his thirteen wives. The civil and media freedom of speech are claimed by many to be restricted but as per its own admission in conferences with other regional media houses (MISA), it is free to report as it pleases. There is still a long way to go though before it really does as it pleases as in other democratic societies. All unmarried women were in 2001 placed under the chastity rite of “umcwasho” between 9 September 2001 and 19 August 2005 in an attempt to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS. This rite (re-introduced after suggestion from NGO’s), banned sexual relations for Swazis under 18 years of age, 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 the royal family 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 and be of good character. Her character affects her child’s chances of ascending to the kingship. According to Swazi culture a son can not 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).
The King currently has twelve wives and two official fiancées — those who have not yet borne him a child. 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 liphovela. In 2002 it was alleged he caused Zena Mahlangu to be kidnapped to become his tenth wife, but no charges were pressed against him in his own courts.