Swazi king weds 18-year-old - report

Time of article published Jun 13, 2005

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Mbabane - Swaziland's King Mswati III took an 18-year-old former Miss Teen Swaziland finalist as his 12th wife at the weekend, barely two weeks after marrying his 11th, media in the tiny African kingdom said.

Nothando Dube was selected as Mswati's fiancee after last year's Reed Dance, an event where thousands of maidens dance bare breasted in honour of the Queen Mother and where Mswati has chosen wives in the past.

The Times of Swaziland's Sunday edition quoted Mswati's traditional prime minister, Jim Gama, as saying that Dube's nuptials had been concluded on Saturday night.

Palace officials were unavailable for confirmation on Monday, when Mswati was due to leave on an overseas trip.

In late May Mswati married his 11th wife, 20-year-old Nolichwa Ntenesa, who was also selected during a Reed Dance.

Mswati, 37, has drawn criticism for spending money on luxury cars while many of his 1,1 million subjects struggle by on food aid, ravaged by the world's highest rate of HIV and Aids which affects around two in every five adults.

But earlier in June Mswati rejected his oft-used label as sub-Saharan Africa's only absolute monarch, saying that although political parties were banned in Swaziland, he only took decisions after consulting with the people.

In 1973 Mswati's father Sobhuza, whose authorised biography says he had 45 official wives, tore up the constitution of the former British protectorate, sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique.

Mswati's officials are drafting a new constitution, which is set to uphold the ban on political parties.

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