‘Greedy’ Swazi royal family fight over mobile telecoms monopoly: SSN


The Swazi Royal Family is reported to be in a bitter feud over mobile service monopoly in the small southern African country.
King Mswati III, Makhosetive Dlamini is 'fighting' with mother over mobile telecoms monopoly. PHOTO: Praag.org

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), one of the leading pressure groups calling for reform in Swaziland has reported that the current feud involves Queen Ntfombi Tfwala and her son King Mswati lll who doubles as the head of state and government.

“The bone of contention is the country's mobile telecommunications industry and its current monopoly status,” read the SSN statement.

“According to a well-placed source, the queen mother is pushing for the Vietnamese/Mozambiqan company, Movitel - a company she partly owns - to secure a license as the country's second mobile phone operator.”

It is believed King Mswati wishes to keep the Swazi MTN monopoly due to the fact that he is the largest independent shareholder in the company with shares equal to 10 per cent.

“Allowing a second operator in the country will effectively end Swazi MTN Group Limited  93%'s monopoly and introduce competition, which the king sees as not good for his personal benefit as it will result in reduced profits as the two companies will have to share the existing market,” added SSN.

According to the SSN, the monopoly of the Royal Family in most sectors of the economy is believed to be discouraging foreign investors.

“We condemn the entire Royal Family for this and insist that the country's economic woes are primarily a result of this "gate-keeping" tendency which discourages foreign investors from the country and condemns Swazis to more poverty while the Royal Family becomes richer,” added the organisation.

“We further call upon the Swazi people to demand a more open telecommunications industry and to find a way to undermine the current MTN monopoly, while we urge our partners across the continent to place pressure on all MTN networks to by boycotting them.”

Paul Norman, MTN Group Chief HR and Corporate Affairs Officer said, “Competition is the foundation of any successful market. Accordingly, MTN supports all endeavours aimed at increasing competition to move the telecoms sector forward.”