US Ambassador to eSwatini Lisa Peterson was speaking during the awarding of certificates to young entrepreneurs at Nhlangano Library on Friday.
“As a development partner, I have serious concerns about the leadership example currently coming out of the palace” she pointed out.
She said while ministries tried to limit international travel, royal children who have no clear role in multilateral relations are clearly visible at the United Nations General Assembly, at an additional cost to the national budget.
“While the government continued using its existing vehicle fleet, the palace sees fit to acquire more than a dozen Rolls Royce vehicles with a minimum price tag of $3.71 million. To accompany this royal fleet, there is now an even larger fleet of official escort vehicles, purchased with public funds,” the ambassador said.
The diplomat said she had wanted to first raise this issue with the king before making a public statement, but that this was not possible because the monarch is currently in cultural seclusion.
“It is exceedingly difficult for development partners to continue advocating for assistance to eSwatini when such profligate spending or suspicious giving is taking place. Would King Sobhuza have made such lavish purchases? We know from his own words that he saw such attachment to luxury” as the pitfall for empires.
Meanwhile the minister for Public Works and Transport Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe issued a counter statement a few hours later, justifying the purchase of the BMW escort cars where he said it was done in line with government policy to have the cars replaced every five years.