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King Mswati

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King Mswati

"King Mswati" redirects here. For previous kings of Swaziland named Mswati, see Mswati II.

Mswati III
King Mswati III
King of Swaziland
Reign 25 April 1986 – present
Coronation 25 April 1986
Predecessor Sobhuza II
Prime Ministers
Spouse 14 wives concurrently
24 children
House House of Dlamini
Father Sobhuza II
Mother Ntombi
Born (1968-04-19) 19 April 1968 (age 46)
Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital, Manzini, Swaziland

Mswati III (born Prince Makhosetive Dlamini on 19 April 1968) is the King of Swaziland and head of the Swazi Royal Family. Makhosetive was born in Masundvwini Swaziland to King Sobhuza III and one of his younger wives Ntombi Tfwala.[1] Mswati was laTfwala’s only child. Makhosetive was crowned Mswati III - Ngwenyama, King of Swaziland on 25 April 1986 at the age of 18. He thus became the youngest ruling monarch at the time in the world. Together with his mother, titled Indlovukazi (Great She Elephant), he rules the country as an absolute monarchy.[2] Mswati III is known for his practice of polygyny (although at least two wives are appointed by the state). His policies and opulent lifestyle have also triggered domestic protests.[3]

Early life

He is one of many sons of king Sobhuza II ( who had more than 125 wives during his reign of 82 years )[4] 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.[5] 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 (International College), before he was called back to ascent to the throne.


Swazi Royal Family

HM The Ndlovukati

  • HM the King
    • HRH Prince Majaha
    • HRH Princess Sikhanyiso
    • HRH Prince Lindaninkosi
    • HRH Princess Temaswati
    • HRH Princess Tiyandza
    • HRH Princess Tebukhosi
    • HRH Prince Bandzile
    • HRH Princess Sibahle
    • HRH Princess Temtsimba
    • HRH Princess Sakhizwe
    • HRH Prince Mcwasho
    • HRH Prince Saziwangaye
    • HRH Princess Makhosothando

He was introduced as Crown Prince in September 1983 and was crowned king on 25 April 1986, aged 18 years and 6 days, and thus making him the youngest reigning monarch until the ascension of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan on 14 December 2006; he was also the youngest head of state until Joseph Kabila took office on 26 January 2001 as President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 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. In matters of cabinet appointments, he gets advice from the prime minister. He ruled by decree, but did restore the nation's Parliament, which had been dissolved by his father in order to ensure concentration of power remained with the king.

In 2004, Mswati promulgated a new constitution that allows freedom of speech and assembly for the media and public, while retaining the traditional Tinkhundla system. Although Amnesty International criticized the new constitution as inadequate in some respects, Swaziland's reporters have told conferences with regional media houses (MISA) that they are generally free to report as they please.

In an attempt to mitigate the HIV and AIDS pandemic in 2001, the king used his traditional powers to invoke a time-honoured chastity rite (umcwasho) under the patronage of a princess, which encouraged all Swazi maidens to abstain from sexual relations for five years. This was last done under Sobhuza II in 1971.[6] This rite banned sexual relations for Swazis under 18 years of age from 9 September 2001 and 19 August 2005, but just two months after imposing the ban, he violated this decree when a liphovela was chosen, who became his 13th wife. As per custom, he was fined a cow by members of her regiment, which he duly paid.

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 (which reached 80 000 in 2012 Sikhanyiso Dlamini. They 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 the king attends only 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 cattle and presenting them with a feast before they return home.


Main article: Succession to the Swazi throne

The king currently has fourteen wives and 24 children. A Swazi king's first two wives are chosen for him by the national councillors. There are complex rules on succession. According to tradition, he can marry his fiancées only after they have fallen pregnant, proving they can bear heirs. Until then, they are termed liphovela, or "brides".

Titles and styles

  • 19 April 1968 – 25 April 1986: His Royal Highness Prince Makhosetive Dlamini of Swaziland.
  • 25 April 1986 – present: His Majesty, Ngwenyama of Swaziland.


Mswati's reign has brought some changes in the government and political transformation. However, critics such as the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)[7] believe that these changes are solely aimed at strengthening and perpetuating the traditional order.[8] His attendance at the May 2012 Sovereign Monarchs lunch, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, caused some controversy, given criticisms of his regime’s human rights record.[9]


Mswati has been criticized for his lifestyle, especially by the media.[10] Following criticism of his purchase of luxury cars, including a $500,000 DaimlerChrysler's flagship Maybach 62 luxury automobile, he banned the photography of his vehicles.[11] According to the Forbes 2009 list of the World's 15 Richest Royals (in which he placed last), King Mswati is worth a reported $200 Million USD.[12] In January 2004 the Times of Swaziland reported that the king requested his government to spend about $15-million to redecorate three main palaces and build others for each of his 11 wives.[13] The Prime Minister's Office issued a press statement saying the article in the Times of Swaziland was "reckless and untrue" and that the proposal was for the construction of 5 State Houses, not Palaces, and the cost was only €19.9 million.[14] Later that year the go-ahead was given to build five new buildings at a cost of more than $4-million out of public funds.[15] In August 2008, Swazi scouts marched through the capital protesting against the cost of a shopping spree taken abroad by nine of the King's thirteen wives. The demonstration was organized by Positive Living, a non-governmental organization for Swazi women living with AIDS.[16]

LaMahlangu controversy

According to accusations by Amnesty International, Zena Mahlangu, a high school student, 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 Ludzidzini Royal Village and was being prepared to be the next wife of the king.[17] 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.[18] Zena was 18. The matter went to the High Court, but Swaziland's Attorney-General Phesheya Dlamini intervened.[19] She has since had two children, and formally became the king's wife in 2010.[20]

Amnesty International said:

The king and his agents have violated the internationally recognized human rights of women and girls, including their right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right not to be subjected to forced marriage


  •  Swaziland : Grand Master of the Royal Order of King Sobhuza II (1986).[21]
  •  Swaziland : Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Ndlovukazi (2002).
  •  Swaziland : Grand Master of the Royal Order of the Crown (2002).
  •  Swaziland : Grand Master of the Royal Family Order of Mswati III (2002).
  •  Swaziland : Grand Master of the Military Order of weSwatini (2002).
  •  South Africa : Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Good Hope (1995).[22]
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ntombi Tfwala
(Queen Regent)
King of Swaziland
Succeeded by



  • Ginidza, Zodwa R. (1986). OCLC 16874145
  • Levin, Richard and Hugh MacMillan. (2003). ISBN 978-1-85743-183-4
  • Simelane, Hamilton Sipho. (2005). ISBN 978-1-57958-245-6

External links

Africa portal
Biography portal
Politics portal
  • Swazi King's Birthday features
  • Swazi Royal Family Tree
  • BBC News: Troubled King Mswati
  • Swaziland king picks wife – BBC Video
  • King Mswati III's address to the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, 25 September 2008
  • An Extravagant Ruler of a Modest Kingdom – New York Times Movie review
  • In Destitute Kingdom, Ruler Lives Like a King
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Internet Movie Database

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