Swazi King Mswati took 15 of his wives, 30 children and more than 100 servants to New Delhi, India, when he attended last week’s India-Africa Summit that brought together leaders from Africa to discuss relation with leaders of the emerging Asian nation.
The summit came on the heels of similar events between African leaders and the US, China and Middle-East leaders, and sought to revive slowing India relations with nations on the continent.
According to Zee Media, one of India’s largest news network, Mswati’s entourage to the summit mostly included his immediate family and servants, apart from a few government officials.
Indian dailies claimed that the King booked more than 200 hotel rooms at a five-star hotel that charges an average of $230 a night, NewsDay reported.
Swaziland’s leading monarchy-friendly newspaper, The Swazi Observer, however quoted the Foreign Minister Mgwagwa Gamedze saying that the information circulating in India was incorrect.
“There is absolutely nothing like that,” Gamedze said. “Whenever the King travels, he is accompanied by only one Inkhosikati (wife) and this is known by every Swazi.”
Gamedze also questioned where Indian media outlets got the number of children King Mswati has and called for a formal correction of the news, which he termed as “malicious”.
Swaziland’s King Mswati III is the last absolute monarch in Africa, and has been a controversial figure since he assumed power in 1986.
Though many of his practices, including the Reed-Dance from which he picks a new virgin gal to join the league of his wives, are steeped in Swazi tradition, increasing demands for human rights and democracy in Swaziland have shrouded the king in criticism and calls for change.
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