Scandal Most Royal

It is too delicious. The story goes something like this: for several months the queen would slip out from the royal palace  disguised as a soldier.  Naturally, no one asked where the soldier was going, and she was whisked away to a secret assignation with her lover. This is all according to what “royal sources” told AFP.  Finally, the king grew suspicious about what wife number 12 was up to and order his secret service to follow her and, wouldn’t you know it, the two were caught in the act at the Royal Villas Luxury Hotel.

The plot thickens: the queen’s lover was in fact the minister of Justice, Ndumiso Mamba – the King’s close friend and trusted financial advisor. He is also married.  I know the photo of him on the Times of Swaziland front page doesn’t do him justice (excuse the pun). He looks quite fleshy and appears to have boobs but Swazi tradition dress will do that to a man. When in a suit he cuts a dashing figure, and a rich one too. He used to head up the big Sugar company here and, though he said very little to the press over his resignation he did say he expected to be comfortably off.

The Justice minister was arrested and the queen banished to the king’s mother’s residence where she is now under “24 hour surveillance”.

As for the lady in the hot water, I can tell you her name is Nothando Dube (known here as “LaDube”). She was a 16-year-old beauty queen when King Mswati II picked her out at the annual “reed dance” (the traditional way kings choose wives here) in 2005. She is the 12th of 14 wives so no wonder she got bored I guess. What I find fascinating is that it is not unheard of for the king’s wives to stray. It has apparently happened at least one other time and with an MP but in that case the MP was demoted, the wife stayed on at the palace and people just got on as if it had never happened.

Who doesn’t love a bit or royal gossip? I know I do. In many countries the papers would be awash with the salacious details. Imagine what the SUN UK would do with it. However this is Swaziland and though the papers have the story, they cannot run with it.Today they can tell us  Ndumiso Mamba (the minister in question) resigned but as to his reasons, they refer vaguely to “rumours circulating”. Swaziland is an absolute monarchy and papers are banned from reporting on “royal affairs” and, if you want to gossip, make sure the police don’t hear you.

What is different this time is that the foreign media have got their teeth into the story and the king is apparently furious about the leak. At the weekend South African papers were stopped at the border after the story broke in one of them. The king was in Taiwan at the time receiving an honorary doctorate and trying to entice investors to come to Swaziland. I had to laugh at the PM trying to deflect attention from the scandal by encouraging people to congratulate the king on his momentous achievement. Apparently he thoroughly deserved the doctorate because of his bravery. For years stood up to China by recognising Taiwan. Next, the Dalai Lama in Swaziland?

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