Eswatini’s King Mswati III has announced a $70 million kitty to support all those who were affected by June's pro-democracy civil unrest.
The kitty, dubbed the Reconstruction Fund, received a start-up injection of $35,000 from the government, as well as a $23,000 contribution from Taiwan and unspecified amounts from local businesses.
King Mswati, Africa’s last absolute monarch, had in June deployed the army to quell protests in the landlocked kingdom of 1.2 million. The citizens, mainly young people, were demanding civil and political liberties from his regime.
The protesters had also called for political reforms and wanted to elect their own Prime Minister.
The government then promised reforms and a “national dialogue” in a bid to prevent more unrest after violence saw dozens killed and hundreds of businesses were burned down.
According to lobbies in the country, soldiers fired live rounds at crowds in a government crackdown on the pro-democracy protests.
Political parties have been banned in Eswatini, previously known as Swaziland, since 1973.
According to King Mswati III on Monday, the fund will help rebuild businesses affected by the unrest.
“We are gathered here to take a major step towards resuscitating all the businesses, structures and infrastructure that were damaged about two months ago,” Eswatini’s King Mswati III said at the fund’s launch in Mbabane.
“This fund may not fully cover the losses incurred by affected business but we strongly believe that it will go a long way in rehabilitating the damaged structures which are very critical for the resuscitation of business”, he added.
Eswatini has been ruled by King Mswati, 53, for 35 years.
The country’s median age is 21 and unemployment stands at over 40 per cent, a stark contrast to the extravagant lifestly of the country's king and his family.