Mswati III (born Makhosetive Dlamini on April 19, 1968) is the King of Swaziland and head of the Swazi Royal Family. In 1986, he succeeded his father Sobhuza II as ruler of the southern African kingdom. He is generally considered to be one of the last absolute monarchs in the world, as he has the authority to appoint the country's Prime Minister, members of the cabinet, and the judiciary. However, he is bound to a certain degree by Swazi traditions and he does not have the authority to choose his heir.
Mswati III is known for his taste for luxury and his practice of polygamy (although at least two wives are appointed by the state), and has been criticized abroad for pursuing his personal interests at the expense of his country, one of the poorest in the world. In 2001 he attempted to curb the AIDS epidemic by invoking an ancient chastity rite, the umchwasho, that banned women under the age of 18 from sex. According to a 2008 report in the New York Times, within Swaziland, Mswati is a respected and largely popular figure. However, his policies and opulent lifestyle have also triggered domestic protests and international ridicule.
He is one of many sons of king Sobhuza II (who had 70 wives and at the time of his death left over 1000 grandchildren) and the only child of Ntombi Tfwala, also known as Inkhosikati LaTfwala, one of the king's younger wives. He was born at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital, four months before Swaziland attained independence from Britain. When he and his mother were discharged from the hospital they went to live at one of king Sobhuza's residences of Etjeni near Masundwini Palace. His birth name was Makhosetive (King of Nations).