BBC Home > BBC News > Africa

Swazi anger at royal wives' trip

21 Aug 08 13:40

Hundreds of Swazi women have marched through the streets of the capital to protest about a shopping trip taken by nine of the king's 13 wives.

They chartered a plane last week to go to Europe and the Middle East.

The BBC's Thulani Mthethwa says the protesters handed in a petition to the finance ministry saying the money could have been better spent.

"We can't afford a shopping trip when a quarter of the nation lives on food aid," they chanted.

Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy, is one of the poorest countries in the world and more than 40% of the population is believed to be infected with HIV.

The march was organised by Positive Living, a non-governmental organisation for women with Aids.

Our correspondent says there was a cross-section of women on the march from professionals to rural representatives.

"We need to keep that money for ARVs [anti-retrovirals]," was another slogan shouted by the women.

King Mswati III, 40, has been criticised in the past for requesting public money to pay for new palaces, a personal jet and luxury cars.

News of his wives' trip broke in the local press a day after they left, our reporter says.

Earlier this week, senior princes warned the women not to march, saying it defied Swazi tradition.

Related BBC sites

*