Activists: Coke Propping Up Swaziland Dictator

Huge Coca-Cola operation under fire
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2012 2:55 AM CST
Updated Jan 3, 2012 4:57 AM CST
Dictator Goes Better With Coke, Complain Swazis
Swaziland's King Mswati III is under fire for human rights abuses and corruption. Activists claim his regime is being propped up with the help of Coca-Cola business interests.   (Getty Images)

Swaziland's dictator keeps on going, thanks in part to support from Coca-Cola, activists are charging. King Mswati III has long been accused of human rights abuses and of looting the national treasury. Coca-Cola owns a large concentrate manufacturing plant in Swaziland, and has hosted trips by Mswati to its Atlanta headquarters, reports the Guardian. The coordinator of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign is calling on Coke to pull out of the country. "Coca-Cola must know they're doing business with the wrong people," she said. "At the end of the day it doesn't benefit the economy in any way. Their profits don't help the average Swazi, while the king is getting richer by the day." The leader of the impoverished country has 13 wives and a personal fortune of some $100 million.

Coca-Cola may account for as much as 40% of Swaziland's GDP. Spokesmen say the company is not responsible for how taxes Coke pays to the government are spent. Coca-Cola adheres to the "highest ethical standards," and aims to be "an outstanding corporate citizen in every community we serve," said a company statement. It set up in Swaziland in 1987 after leaving apartheid South Africa. (More King Mswati III stories.)

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