King Mswati III of Swaziland received loud cheers and applause during his arrival to Saturday’s inauguration of South Africa’s new president, Jacob Zuma.
The overwhelming support for Africa’s last absolute monarch came when it was rumored he was not welcomed to the ceremony.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions had backed the Swaziland Solidarity Network to ban the King.
On Friday, The Congress released a statement explaining why they did not want Mswati to come.
“The Presidential inauguration will be a celebration of democracy” the Congress said. “The culmination of a long process in which first the rank-and-file of the African National Congress and then the people of South Africa have democratically selected a president and government of their choice.
“King Mswati on the other hand has been elected by nobody. He inherited his position of absolute power and has used it to deny his people any democratic rights…Opposition parties remain banned, trade union rights are curtailed and any opposition demonstrations are ruthlessly suppressed.
“The presence of this despot at the inauguration will be an insult to all the people of Africa. It will give him credibility and democratic credentials which he does not deserve… He should be treated as a pariah.”
The spokesperson for the Swaziland Solidarity Network, Lucky Lukhele, said:
“He has never spent R100million on his personal birthday and another R50million on 20 luxury Mercedes Benz S600 with plasma screens and fridges inside, while his own people go hungry.”
Despite all the efforts, the King did show up and was greeted warmly.
King Mswati is without controversy. He and his 13 wives and many children, live lavishly while the majority of Swazis live in intense poverty. Swaziland’s HIV rate is one of the world’s highest.