Johannesburg - Swaziland’s King Mswati III insisted at the World Economic Forum Africa conference in Cape Town that he rules his country only at the pleasure of his people.
If they decided the country should transform from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy, he would be happy to oblige.
Mswati was one of several African heads of state who participated in the meeting which brought together more than a thousand political, economic and social leaders for a major chin-wag about Africa’s problems and prospects.
The others included Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, and Benin’s President Yayi Boni.
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was also a star turn at the conference. President Jacob Zuma participated as the host.
The presence of Mswati and Kenyatta raised eyebrows; Mswati because as Africa’s last absolute monarch he faces pressure to transform to a constitution monarchy, Kenyatta because he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged complicity in the murder of scores on political opponents after the 2007 elections.
Kenyatta shrugged off questions about the indictment at the conference, telling a TV interviewer the indictment would not tarnish Kenya’s image as the world “will focus on whether we respect rule of law, which we will do”.
Mswati participated in a discussion on how Africans could maintain their traditional values in the modern world.
Nkosana Moyo, chief executive of the Mandela Institute for Development Studies and former Zimbabwean cabinet minister, urged Africa to look to Japan which had retained its traditional values while becoming a modern state.
Mswati was asked whether the best combination of tradition and modernity in Swaziland would not be to move to a constitutional monarchy.
He said the king did not make decisions on his own as the country’s tradition was for all citizens to have their say through the iSibaya Forum where the whole nation came together to discuss political, economic and social issues. - Saturday Star