King Mswati III of Swaziland has told Christian religious leaders in the country that divorce is against their culture making it likely that it will be banned in the African country. The meeting took place on Sunday at the Engabezweni Royal Residence.
The King, who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, reportedly said, “In our culture, once you marry, there is no turning back.”
The religious leaders were told to tell the Swazi people about the banning of divorce once the law goes into effect. The Swaziland Solidarity Network, a civil rights organisation, explained to eNews Channel Africa that His Majesty’s “wish is likely to become law if he formally tables it.”
They warned that this new law would take direct aim at women who are already significantly oppressed in the country. King Mswati’s remarks come just as Swaziland’s attorney-general was in the process of drafting new legislation in the form of a marriage bill that would have made it easier, especially for women, to divorce.
The African news network was also told by Lucky Lukhele, of the civil rights organisation, “It is not necessarily a decree. However, given the vast powers that the king has it may sound as it is. Remember that he is also a chairperson of the judiciary commission. I am just imagining women going there to demand a divorce given that the judge himself will be worried about his job after they had to contradict their boss; in this case the King.”
His Majesty, who celebrated his 49th birthday yesterday, has 15 wives and at least 30 children. The law in the country allows him to choose a new wife each year. King Mswati began his reign in Swaziland on 25 April 1986 when he came of age at 18-years-old; he was just 14 when his father, the late King Sobhuza II, died in 1982.