King Mswati III of eSwatini has refuted media reports that he ordered men in his kingdom to marry more women, due to scarcity of husbands, or face jail term.
The absolute Monarch of eSwatini, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, formerly known as Swaziland, this week refuted the allegations which was first carried by the Zambian Observer Newspaper and picked up by several other online publications.
Government spokesman of eSwatini, Percy Simelane called the story “malicious” and “poisonous” insisting that “his Majesty has not made any pronouncement to that effect as it has never been an issue raised”.
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He said the story was “not only an insult to the monarchy and the culture of eSwatini but a disgrace to journalism”.
In a press statement, the government demanded that the newspaper retract its story. Hours after the release, the newspaper wrote a rejoinder to their previously published article on their online platform.
Their first article, widely republished and shared online stated that the king believes taking more wives will help women get husbands. It says the kingdom has more women than men, reason why the Monarch made the declaration.
“Here’s the deal, marry at least five wives and you’re assured that the government will pay for the marriage ceremonies and buy houses for them…King Mswati warned that any man or woman who opposes the decision “will face a life sentence””, another online platform wrote.
This is not the first time King Mswati III has been faced with a widely publicized controversy. The ruler who has 15 wives and 25 children, on his birthday last year changed the country’s name from Swaziland to the Kingdom of eSwatini.
King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch
Born, Ngwenyama Mswati III Dlamini, on April 19, 1968, into the Swazi royal family, he was given the title of Prince Makhosetive (King of All Nations). The young prince was one of more than 60 sons his father, King Sobhuza II had with one of his many wives.
After his early education in then-Swaziland he was sent England where he enrolled at the Sherborne School in Dorset.
Encyclopædia Britannica writes that Makhosetive was 14 years old when his father died in 1982, and a regency was established to rule Swaziland until Makhosetive could ascend the throne upon his 21st birthday.
A power struggle within the royal family, however, led to Makhosetive taking the crown when he was 18, making him the youngest world leader at that time. His coronation was held on April 25, 1986. On that day he took the name King Mswati III and also married the first of several wives.