The right royal ‘entanglements’

They are the king’s children. They go to UN functions, they don the most expensive of apparel, they intermarry, make promises to suitors and disappoint them, get promoted to high offices in the civil service, and party and exist as royals. All funded by the public-purse.

I have a confession to make: I am fascinated by the royal children. One has to stan a group of people whose biggest contribution to the economy is the girlfriend/boyfriend industrial complex. Yes, you heard that right, it’s a complex love trilogy that has tentacles everywhere. In fact, this girlfriend/boyfriend industrial complex permeates every level of our political, social and economic life. It takes commitment to have all that opportunity and access, and choose to do nothing of consequence.

In case you just landed from space, the eSwatini royal family isn’t just King Mswati and his progeny. It’s thousands of people, spanning several generations. The Dlamini dynasty is too large to count. The late King Sobhuza II alone is said to have fathered over 200 children in his lifetime. Those children have gone on to have multiple wives and children of their own. If our population is a measly 1.2 million then the royal family and their associates must constitute at least 10 percent. It’s been a Fibonacci sequence of procreation. However, every brood has its star subjects, and those are the objects of my obsession.

Sikhanyiso the Queen Bee

I would be remiss not to begin by doffing my hat to the Queen Bee, Princess Sikhanyiso. Who do you know who can be invited to the United Nations to give a speech about abstinence and show up with her boyfriend in tow? It seemed an obvious choice, after all this was the king’s eldest daughter who for a long time was the leader of the maidens and a vanguard for abstinence. And she was proud of it. Who can forget her performing a song telling the world she was a virgin at the Umhlanga Ceremony? It does not get any prouder than that.

So the setting was September 2016 when Phashu, as her hip hop moniker goes, had been invited to a UNAIDS event in New York to speak about our country using abstinence as a strategy to fight against HIV. The fact that the trip ended up becoming a romantic getaway for her and her then boyfriend Mzwandile Phiri is short of a Hollywood drama. I mean, who else would bring her basketball-coach boyfriend on some modelling gig while on official state duties and then hobnob around looking for a basketball team that can recruit bae dearest? You people forget Alicia Keys told us New York is “where dreams are made of” and “there’s nothing you can't do”.

[Princess Sikhanyiso at the UNAIDS meeting in New York back in 2016.]

But that’s just who our Princess is. The first of her name. Our own Daenerys. Born of what the foreign press often call a “rebel queen”, it was never in doubt the apple wouldn't fall too far from the tree. First to record a hip hop song? Tick. First to question why the king was marrying wives younger than her? Tick. First to shoot a semi sexually explicit video together with dancer turned artist Milewki Mdluli? Tick. You name it and she has done it. After all, who else could have a bevvy of suitors – Kings, princes, petrostate heirs – but choose one with whom she shares a surname. Just like there are no friends in politics, there are also no friends to royalty. The musical princess once invited “friends” to be in her music video titled No tomorrow, only to make them play demons, while she and her chosen few played heavenly hosts. Naughty Princess that one.

Dlamini here, Dlamini there and Dlamini everywhere

Those who accuse her of pissing on the very culture her family wants us to venerate by dating her Dlamini baby daddy are a tad unfair though. Didn't her father not do the same with LaNgangaza? Entanglements, right? In any event it seems better than her sister Tebukhosi whose children were fathered by her first cousin, Mhlobo Dlamini. Everyone knows Mhlobo is the son of Prince Khuzulwandle, his Majesty’s brother, and therefore her cousin. It gets juicier. Tebukhosi’s grandfather from her maternal side is the late EV Dlamini and while Mona Dlamini (official name, King Sobhuza II) is from her paternal side. It gets even better, her father is Makhosetive Dlamini (official name King Mswati III) and mother Carol Dlamini (official name LaNgangaza). Her baby daddy is Mhlobo Dlamini and her daughter is Tisekelo Dlamini. Do what you may with this information. Of course, we can’t blame Tebukhosi. Her older brother, Prince Majaha, a true swazi lothario, has two children by his first cousin too. Nonsindiso Ginindza, daughter of Princess Phumelele, gave birth to the King’s first grandchild in 2012. Princess Phumelele, a former legislator, caused a stir a few years ago when she told swazi women to stop referring to themselves as “emaKhosikati.” That this is the most lasting contribution she has made to the public discourse says all you need to know about our royal family - even precious generations.

[Princess Tebukhosi posing with her baby Daddy Mahlobo Dlamini and their daughter.]

The recent global census has left prognosticators screaming high and low about the declining world population. But rest assured, we needn’t have such worries. From Princes Sicalo and Majaha, who each have four and half a dozen baby mothers between them, that should goose up our numbers... as well as the ever growing dependents on civil list money. At least Sicalo works for his meal. In the sort of success that only Forex traders are capable of, the young prince leap frogged hundreds of people to become the PS at the Ministry of Defence. To be fair to the youngish prince, he did spend years in the Libyan army. Whatever happened to those Gaddafi millions by the way? I digress!

Majaha, on the other hand, has really given many journalists material for articles. From the videos of him mocking Jan Sithole’s death, to him telling us to leave his “dad” alone – even though the king is supposed to be everyone’s father and will get muddied by politics as an executive monarch – it hasn’t been an easy year for him. Majaha should by now have outgrown his boyish delinquency. And his comments about Sithole’s death were insensitive because we all prayed for his recovery when just a few years ago he had a motorbike accident that saw him spend months in a South African intensive care unit. Most thought we would lose him. But here we are today, lessons lost.

Money spenders

But it’s not just the famous royals who are making waves. While young women who get married leave their father’s home to start a family, our princesses realised life at home was too rosy to leave behind. Is it a victory for feminism that Princess Temashayina is bank-rolling her alleged Prince Dani’s life? I’m all for getting your man gifts – socks are great – but using state resources to buy him a car? Mmmm! Not sure. Our scam goddess Blac Chyna would not approve. But the grift is the gift that keeps on.

Recently engaged Temaswati was also in the tabloid press for using state resources to support her new bae’s family. Is this the new blueprint? I am glad I was taken out of the dating game many years ago. Talking of Maziya, anyone ring us up on how his ex “wife” is doing now that he is eating with the high and mighty.

I reserve my final bow for the one who calls himself Peaceful Warrior, the pioneer of Girlfriend Allowance, Prince Bandzile. You want an iPhone? Vacation in Dubai? That’s your guy. He made history when his divorced girlfriend, Dudu Kiti, the South African influencer, was part of the maidens at the Reed Dance in 2018. A victory for air hostesses everywhere. While they’ve since broken up, the home he built for her is still standing.

Prince Bandzile posting with his then girlfriend and the King

I am not a cruel and thoughtless person. I know the reader isn’t either. I ask for some empathy for the exes. The ones who have to see someone else aboard their gravy train. The ones who never really got a gravy train and feel cheated. This is a safe space: share your stories. We will mourn with you. Did you get engaged to a prince in a public ceremony like Nothando Hlophe, our beloved gospel singer, only for him to tire of you? Indeed #MenAreTrash. Did a princess, in this case our dearest Queen Bee, take you all over the world, only to kick you out of the home she had leased for you? At least you are not Phiri, you don't know this pain.

The let-downs

We thought the nightmarish relationship of loving someone whose family does not approve of you was tough, but being dumped and left in the lurch like that was cruel by any measure. Phiri has been through a lot bathong! However, it’s hard to feel bad for the jilted exes when we see what those who are holding steady do on social media. For example, while some may celebrate Prince Lindani getting married to his high school sweetheart of ten years in former ex-Miss Teen eSwatini Fatima Loureiro, whatever good will evaporates just by a cursory glance on her twitter feed. In true mockery of the poor style, the new HRH constantly tweets about how blessed she is to have a mansion, new cars and jewels. Well, of course the former beauty queen would consider it a blessing, short of miraculous even, that her soldier husband would find himself an economic advisor to the king and earning a salary of 200K. I am curious though whether the prince knows what a balance of payments is? Can he tell us the GDP of eSwatini? Can he tell us what the GDP itself is?

Show of gluttony

Are you someone who thought they would get to benefit, but are watching the royal cash run out? We can act as The Bridge to healing, and connect you to others who were regurgitated by the Girlfriend/Boyfriend Industrial complex. We can’t promise an X5 and Jacob&Co watch on the other side, but there’s a lot of royal exes who have rebuilt their lives. The trick is to save that girlfriend allowance, and have a back-up bae in tow. Just try not to settle with someone who’s going to spend two years in prison on a murder rap.

I am truly aware that people have a right and expectation of privacy. But that’s us mere mortals. Our royals are another matter altogether. They have become important cogs in our political system. From ministerial positions, to traditional advisory councils, not to mention the boards they sit on... they are public figures now. Their entanglements have long-running consequences for us all.

So we might finally have to accept that while our royals may be leeches, they keep a lot of lights on. Think about all the people who have to be involved to make their lives comfortable. Those whose job is to remember their pin codes when they go drinking. The drivers who have to remember to drop their girlfriends at the right home after a night out in town. We’re all caught up in the entanglements. When do we severe them?

For comments, corrections and tips contact us at