King Mswati III, of Swaziland, which now calls itself Eswatini, addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

PRETORIA  - The biggest opposition party in eSwatini, the People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) has sharply criticised King Mswati III for importing luxury vehicles amid unrest linked to civil servants' demands for a pay rise and the escalating cost of living in the southern African monarchy.

In a statement Pudemo's secretary general Wandile Dludlu called the king's move a "blatant display of arrogance" and total disregard of the poor people of eSwatini.

"The shameless King Mswati continues to spoil himself and his family, totally oblivious to the myriad of problems afflicting the people he claims to lead. Last week, a total of 19 Rolls Royce cars were delivered to Swaziland for the exclusive use of the King, his mother and wives and the total cost of these vehicles to the Swazi taxpayer was over E250 million," Dludlu said.

Images and videos showing three trucks ferrying numerous Rolls Royce vehicles reported to be for the king's 15-odd wives and other royal family members  have gone viral on social media. According to reports, each of the vehicles costs between R4 million to R10 million.

"Notwithstanding the outrage of Swazis over the purchase of the Rolls Royces, the King Mswati led government continued rub salt into the gaping wound suffered by people by purchasing a further 120 BMWs and 30 motorbikes," said Dludlu.

"He is basically showing them a middle finger and proving to all and sundry that he is a law unto himself and not at all concerned about the people’s concerns. As Pudemo, we strongly condemn in the strongest possible terms this brazen looting of the oppressed people of Swaziland’s hard earned taxes by Mswati," Dludlu added.

He urged citizens to "stand up and face up to this evil regime that continues to keep us in bondage".

"Under no circumstances can we allow one family to continuously condemn us to poverty. It is about time that we fight back and reclaim what rightfully belongs to us. This has been going on and has emboldened the regime and we must fight back," said Dludlu.

The biggest opposition party in eSwatini, the People's United Democratic Movement has sharply criticised King Mswati III for importing luxury vehicles


He said in Africa's last absolute mornachy, formerly known as Swaziland, public sector workers had not received salary adjustments in three years and the health system had totally collapsed, rendering the poorest citizens vulnerable. 

"Tertiary institutions have also closed down due to student unrest caused by the regime’s failure to cater for their tuition fees, text book fees, accommodation and other expenses," said Dludlu.

This month, civil servants in the capital Mbabane took to the streets, expressing outrage over the king's expenditure.

- African News Agency (ANA)