MTN monopoly funds Swaziland king’s lavish lifestyle: report

MTN is one of a number of SA-based companies that help fund the lavish lifestyle of King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in Africa, the Sunday Times reported on 13 July 2013.

The other companies fingered in the report are Illovo, Remgro, Sun International, and SABMiller.

Mswati reportedly owns 10% of shares in MTN Swaziland, while MTN owns 30%.

Over the past five years, MTN has paid over R114-million in dividends to Mswati, the Sunday Times reported.

According to the report, cellular communications costs in Swaziland are significantly higher than in South Africa.

Asked about the discrepancy in MTN’s prices between SA and Swaziland, the operator was quoted as saying that the rates were determined by underlying costs beyond the control of Swazi MTN.

MTN argued that many of their input costs were determined by Swaziland’s state-run telecommunications company.

Attempts to launch competition to MTN Swaziland have also been met with aggressive opposition, Sunday Times reported.

In 2009, the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) tried to sell 3.5% of its 41% stake in MTN Swaziland to Mswati so that it could launch its own mobile operator.

SPTC boss at the time, Nathi Dlamini, was arrested and the Minister of Information and Communications Technology was fired.

Despite this, the SPTC still tried to launch its own mobile operator.

However, according to the report an international arbitrator eventually ordered the company to withdraw because it launched while still holding a 41% MTN shareholding.

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MTN monopoly funds Swaziland king’s lavish lifestyle: report