SWAZILAND: Coca-Cola Co refutes Mswati support claims
The Coca-Cola Co has defended itself against accusations by political activists in Swaziland that the company is financially supporting the country's leader, King Mswati III.
Coca-Cola, which entered Swaziland in 1987, owns a concentrate manufacturing facility in the country, Conco Swaziland. However, on Monday (2 January), the soft drinks firm was accused by The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) of financially supporting the regime of dictator Mswati through its operations in the country, according to The Guardian.
The group has accused Coca-Cola of "giving [Mswati] economic strength to crush opposition", by contributing as much as 40% to the country's GDP. It has called for Coca-Cola to "pull out of the country immediately".
Sherree Shereni, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Central Africa, said that Mswati "does not receive any profits or dividends from Conco Swaziland". She added that the company is not involved with the political agenda of any country in which it does business.
"Coca-Cola's reputation is built on the quality of its brands, the highest standards of manufacturing practices, the welfare and safety of its employees and adherence to local and international laws as applicable in any country where Coca-Cola does business," she said.
The company also defended itself against accusations by the SDC that it has hosted a number of visits by the King at its head office in the US.
"His Majesty King Mswati III of Swaziland visited Coca-Cola's corporate head office in Atlanta only once, and that was in September 2007," Shereni said. "The King leveraged his presence in New York for a UN heads of state meeting that took place around the same time to pay a courtesy visit to the home of Coca-Cola and to Coca-Cola's then chairman, Neville Isdell. The King's visits abroad are also such public news in Swaziland."
According to the Guardian, Mswati has amassed a fortune of around US$100m and presides over "one of the worst-off countries in the world", in which "political parties are banned and activists are regularly arrested, imprisoned and tortured".
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