Sunday, September 07, 2008
Your tax dollars supported this party!
Swaziland turned 40 on Saturday, as did its monarch, so in true Jose Canseco form King Mswati III held the aptly named "40-40" party. No word on whether King Cobra was involved. Nonetheless, the party is a microcosm for the larger failings of the majority of the rulers in Africa.
The cost of the party was announced at $2.5 million, though believed to stretch beyond $10 million. GDP per capita was estimated in 2007 to be at $4,800. Nearly 26% of Swaziland's residents between 15 and 49 have HIV or AIDS. One in four people in Swaziland live to be 40.
Robert "Democracy" Mugabe attended the event as well; Swazilanders feel he's stood up to the West and, as such, received the largest cheer of the day.
We does the development community think of such a regime? The DAC has funneled over $500 million to Mswati since he his reign began, $120 million from the U.S. alone. Chris Coyne and I have a paper (pdf) looking at the phenonmenon of aid flowing to the worst of the worst, its title works well to describe the Swaziland scenario-- "With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?"
King Mswati III comes in at #14 on the Parade's World's Worst Dictators list.