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Politics & Current Affairs

Is Coca-Cola Propping Up a Dictator?

After the drink company left South Africa during apartheid, it set up shop in neighboring Swaziland. But now its tax payments support the country's notorious dictator, Mswati III.

What’s the Latest Development?

The Coca-Cola company is drawing criticism from human rights groups for its ties to Mswati III, the notorious dictator of Swaziland, a small landlocked country representing Africa’s last absolute monarch. “The king has travelled to Coca-Cola’s headquarters in Atlanta in the US, much to the disgust of Swazi political activists who blame him for human rights abuses and looting the nation’s wealth.” The co-ordinator of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign has called for Coca-Cola to pull out of the country immediately.

What’s the Big Idea?

After leaving South Africa during apartheid, Coca-Cola established a factory in neighboring Swaziland but the drink company insists Mswati III does not own any part of its operations. But tax revenue received from the company is being siphoned by the monarch to consolidate power and quash political challengers. Some estimate that Coca-Cola accounts for 40 percent of Swaziland’s gross domestic product. The company says it does not know how its tax payments are spentperhaps it would prefer not to know.

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