Mswati has been criticized for his lifestyle, especially by the media. Following criticism of his purchase of luxury cars, including a $500,000 DaimlerChrysler's flagship Maybach 62 luxury automobile, he banned the photography of his vehicles. According to the former CEO of the Office of the king, the purchases were personally funded and the king of Swaziland earns a high salary as Head of State, has investments within and outside the country and owns an unspecified amount of shares in different companies within Swaziland.
According to the Forbes 2009 list of the World's Richest Royals, king Mswati is worth a reported $200 Million USD.
In January 2004 the Times of Swaziland reported that the king requested his government to spend about $15-million to redecorate three main palaces and build others for each of his 11 wives. The Prime Minister's Office issued a press statement saying the article in the Times of Swaziland was "reckless and untrue" and that the proposal was for the construction of 5 State Houses, not Palaces, and the cost was only E19.9 million. Later that year the go-ahead was given to build five new palaces at a cost of more than $4-million out of public funds.
In August 2008, Swazi scouts marched through the capital protesting against the cost of a shopping spree taken abroad by nine of the King's thirteen wives. The demonstration was organized by Positive Living, a non-governmental organization for Swazi women living with AIDS.