His Majesty King Mswati 111 has appointed Cleopas Sipho Dlamini as the 12th Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini. His appointment follows the passing of Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini in December 2020.

Making the announcement this afternoon His Majesty noted that while the current Parliament term ends in two years it was still important to have someone spearhead economic recovery efforts especially at a time when the global pandemic COVID-19 has strained the economy.

His Majesty instructed the new PM to hit the ground running following in the footsteps of his late predecessor, who had served diligently in his tenure. He encouraged Dlamini to treat his national assignment with dignity and integrity and find a way to bring together a nation that has just experienced a difficult phase.

Dlamini, a Senator is the former Chief Executive Officer of Public Services Pension Fund.

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Coat of arms of Swaziland.svg

PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT 

NATIONAL COVID-19 UPDATE

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a health threat world over with over 50 million people infected. While this scourge persists to be a menace to humanity, we are comforted by the fact that through concerted efforts from all Emaswati and various stakeholders, we are on a positive path of bringing this disease under control in the Kingdom.

This has been achieved through the deliberate efforts of Emaswati to wear face masks consistently in public spaces, practice of social distancing, keep their hands clean, avoid crowds as well as the cooperation of many sectors in complying with laid down regulations and protocols. As of today, we only have 159 active cases of COVID-19 in the country. However, while the statistics are promising, the very unpredictable nature of this virus means we cannot for one moment rest on our successes.

Lessons derived from around the world indicate that many countries that once believed were past the worst phase of the COVID-19 pandemic are now grappling with new outbreaks and reverting to more stringent lockdown measures.  We have no option but to learn from these lessons and be more vigilant in all we do, and at all times, to keep safe and save lives and livelihoods.

Disregard of regulations

Unfortunately, Government has noted with serious concern of the behavior of a few individuals across multiple sectors who, over the past weeks, have continued to show complete disregard of COVID-19 regulations. While many Emaswati continue to observe these regulations, we have noted various breaches happening in the transport sector, in sport, in gatherings and in entertainment activities.

Some citizens still refuse to wear face masks when in public or using public transport; others still continue to engage in banned sporting activity including informal football, while others do not adhere to the laid down protocols governing the hosting of gatherings, particularly entertainment activities.

These reckless actions go against the clear & straightforward protocols that Government and the various sectors agreed upon in this ongoing phased re-opening of the economy.

Government takes this moment to remind all citizens, business owners, public transport operators, religious establishments, leisure sites, arts stakeholders and sporting associations that we are still within this COVID-19 battle and such deliberate disregard of the laid down protocols puts the entire country at risk of instigating a spike in infections. It is for this reason that Government is taking a stern disciplinary action against certain establishments for non-compliance to the COVID-19 regulations.

Government will not allow reckless entities or individuals to reverse these immense national gains we have made over a very trying period in our history as nation. We will not hesitate to ban and bring to the law any individual or entity that fails to follow the laid down regulations thus putting the entire country at risk.

Working together with law enforcement agencies, we will upscale surveillance across the country to ensure that COVID-19 regulations are adhered to and that those who breach them are brought to book. We will continue to monitor many other public establishments to ensure compliance.

Alcohol consumption

Government has further noted a disturbing trend following the lifting of the ban in the sale of alcohol, where some Emaswati have visibly reverted to alcohol consumption patterns that are in violation of the COVID-19 regulations. Health evidence indicates that alcohol consumption is a serious driver of the spread of COVID-19.

I take this opportunity to caution outlets selling liquor to strictly adhere to the stipulated regulations that were presented by government to control reckless consumption of alcohol. The regulations prohibit consumption of alcohol in crowded areas, bars or any gathering but only allows it for home consumption and in hotels when food is served. Once again, Government will not hesitate to close establishments that are violating these alcohol regulations.

MSME Support                               

We are happy to note that various sectors of our economy have demonstrated innovation and persistence to ensure that economic activities are sustained amid of the threats of the pandemic.

Government’s efforts to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector are ongoing. A few months ago, Government announced the introduction of a E45 Million MSME Revolving Fund, which seeks to provide financial relief to businesses affected by COVID-19. Even though the implementation of this Fund has taken a bit longer than initially anticipated, I am pleased to announce that it is now near finalisation as its Regulations are now in Parliament.

As another measure to cushion small and medium enterprises, particularly informal traders, Government is also pleased to announce the provision of a E650 subsidy on COVID-19 tests for informal cross border traders. This means cross-border traders will pay a minimal fee of E200 for the test, provided they are included in the list for weekly travel to be submitted to Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade by cross border trade associations.

The agreement reached with cross border trade associations is that only 200 traders will travel per week on a regional rotation. Government has observed that a key feature of informal cross-border trade is that most traders are women, and for these women such trade is often their main or even only source of income. The costs associated with acquiring a COVID-19 test certificate have, therefore, proven to be prohibitive in cross border trade hence the introduction of the subsidy programme.

Relief Fund

Government is also continuing with compensatory relief to workers who suffered loss of earnings as a result of being laid off due to the devastating effects of COVID-19.

A total of 21 368 employees have now been paid from the Relief Fund to date. It must be noted that a majority of the employees who were laid off have since been recalled back to work pursuant to the cautious and gradual opening of economic activity and relaxation of the partial lockdown restrictions. However, those employees who are still on layoff continue to benefit from this Fund. A total sum of E12 794 600 – 00 has since been paid from the Fund.

We encourage all employers who laid off their employees without pay to approach the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for the necessary assistance so that every deserving employee can benefit from this Fund.

Adherence to regulations

May I urge every one of us to take full responsibility in this COVID-19 fight. Most importantly, we should be our brother’s keeper as the Mgcini Campaign we launched a few weeks back calls of us. This means that we should practice exemplary health behavior and inspire those around us to do the same in order to beat COVID-19.

In line with the message of this Campaign, I call upon all citizens to police each other at home, in communities and in public spaces. Let us call each other to order, remind those who do not wear face masks to do so and stop those who continue to play informal football, particularly in the rural areas.

As we head into the busy festive season, we should do so in the knowledge that this is a festive season like no other. Indeed, a killer still lurks among us and any mistake from our side will be punished severely by this deadly, uncompromising enemy.

As a way of managing COVID-19 infections, risk adjusted measures will be applied at any given time when there is evidence of an aggressive surge in infections, particularly those that may be driven by those negligently ignoring the COVID-19 precautions.

It is for that reason that we should not tire of following the laid down protocols consistently;

  1. Wear a face mask consistently and correctly. Avoid touching the front of the mask but use the straps to put it on, adjust or remove it.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
  3. Observe social distancing protocols of one to two metres at all times.
  4. Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation and crowded places, including close-contact settings such as close-range conversations.

May I once again pass my sincere gratitude for the compassionate and collaborative care applied by all frontline workers in this fight with an uncompromising enemy. We have in us the capability to overcome any adversity that threatens our nation if we remain united and determined to save lives and save livelihoods.

Thank you.

Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini

PRIME MINISTER

KINGDOM OF ESWATINI

11 NOVEMBER 2020

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

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PRESS STATEMENT

Government has noted with concern the surge in COVID-19 infections over the past week.

Last week alone, we had approximately 150 cases, which indicates a significant increase from recent weeks. And although this cannot yet be attributed as the so-called second wave, there have been projections that numbers will rise during the festive season as a result of increased movement of people.

Government wishes to once again remind the nation that COVID-19 is still a major health threat and that there are no indications that it will end anytime soon. Therefore, it remains everyone’s responsibility to do their utmost best to protect themselves, their loved ones as well as those they come into contact with, in line with the recently launched Mgcini WeSive campaign.

We continue to receive reports of continued disregard of COVID-19 precautionary measures by some Emaswati, particularly in the public transport industry, entertainment venues and some private gatherings. We wish to once again remind public transport operators that it is their responsibility to enforce compliance from their passengers. Likewise, drivers and conductors are bound by the COVID-19 Regulations 2020 to wear masks at all times and not expose their passengers to COVID-19. We should not wear a mask because we see a roadblock ahead but should make it a lifestyle to protect and to stay protected at all times.

We also continue to receive disturbing reports that some entertainment venues and night clubs are now operating all night and that alcohol is being served on site, while patrons share drinks and neither wear masks nor social distance. We wish to point out that this kind of irresponsible behaviour is the same one that has perpetuated the COVID-19 pandemic even at family level, as people return home to their families after such escapades. This is a reminder that drinking in public is not yet allowed and that alcohol is strictly for home use. All gatherings are also restricted to two and a half hours in terms of the recently amended COVID-19 Regulations.

As we usher in the festive season, we wish to emphasise the importance of staying safe. As we move around and about, doing our Christmas shopping and visiting relatives, let us not act recklessly as this is detrimental to ourselves and everyone else we may come into contact with. This also applies to religious gatherings, stokvel meetings and other gatherings. Community sporting activities remain banned until advised otherwise. Police will be very vigilant particularly around this period to enforce compliance.

The following preventative measures continue to apply:

  1. 1. Washing hands with soap and running water or using hand sanitiser
  2. 2. Wearing a face mask correctly; covering mouth, nose and chin, more importantly when you are in public or in the company of other people. Government has already made the wearing of masks compulsory for all emaswati when in public.
  3. 3. Watch your physical distance; keep a distance of more than one metre between yourself and others at all times

Accessing COVID-19 Vaccines

On another note, the Ministry of Health wishes to update the nation about the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live. 

The COVAX Facility provides this solution: through portfolio diversification, pooling of financial and scientific resources, and economies of scale, participating governments and blocs can hedge the risk of backing unsuccessful candidates just as governments with limited or no ability to finance their own bilateral procurement can be assured access to life-saving vaccines that would otherwise have been beyond their reach.

The COVAX Facility is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is open to all Member States including those who will self-finance vaccine procurement and those whose vaccine costs will be supported through the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) of the Gavi Alliance.  The Kingdom of Eswatini does not fall under the self-financing countries but will be supported through the AMC.

The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini is committed to procuring a COVID-19 vaccine when a viable candidate approved by appropriate regulatory bodies is available.  We have been requested and joined the COVAX Facility as a co-financing country.  Joining the COVAX Facility provides the Kingdom of Eswatini with the following:

  • • Access to vaccines - particularly beneficial for countries that cannot easily secure bilateral deals
  • • Likely at a lower cost than bilateral deals
  • • Diversified portfolio of candidates, reduces risk or reliance on one candidate
  • • Simplified procurement and price negotiations and processes, since handled by COVAX

Countries can pursue both COVAX participation and self-procurement at the same time, as a country we are pursuing both as we seek to ensure that our people will be protected.

There are 3 vaccine candidates that have released results:

  • ● 09th November 2020: Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech reported that their COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective and on 20th November 2020 applied for emergency authorisation from regulators.

o         Cold Chain Requirements: must be kept at an ultracold, minus-70 degrees Celsius.  

o         Doses: requires 2 doses, second dose given 3 weeks after the first one

o         Part of the COVAX facility

  • ● 16th November 2020: Moderna reports that its COVID-19 vaccine is found to be 95% effective

o         Cold Chain Requirements: stored frozen at minus-20 degrees Celsius, but it keeps for a month at refrigerator temperatures.  This could make it easier to distribute to pharmacies and rural areas that don’t have specialised freezers

o         Doses: requires 2 doses, second dose given 4 weeks after the first one

o         Not part of the COVAX facility

  • ● 23rd November 2020: AstraZeneca reports that its vaccine with Oxford University is up to 90% effective if the first dose is used and 70% if both doses are used

o         Cold Chain Requirements: can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for up to 6 months which will make it far easier to distribute and administer in much of the world

o         Doses: requires 2 doses, but the trial found that it was far more effective when the first dose was half the typical dose, with the second given a month later.  It remains to be seen which dose the company will submit to regulators for clearance

o         Part of the COVAX facility

Ongoing preparations for the Vaccine

We have already been made aware that initial supply of viable vaccines will inevitably be limited. The country will be provided with vaccines for 20% of the population for the first 18 months through the COVAX facility and has an option to procure additional doses at retail prices directly from the manufacturers. 

We have already started work to develop an allocation mechanism to target groups with the aim of reducing mortality and protecting the health system; as a start healthcare workers will be first to receive the vaccination to ensure uninterrupted health service delivery.  Assessments on vaccine profile and logistics required for delivery of the vaccine to the population have also been conducted to inform the vaccine candidate that would work best for our population and fit our cold chain infrastructure.  Lastly, Government has put aside funding and is engaging with various different partners to source additional funding to enable us to purchase the vaccines.

 

Senator Lizzie Nkosi

Minister of Health

30 November 2020

Coat of arms of Swaziland.svg

PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT 

NATIONAL COVID-19 UPDATE

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a health threat world over with over 50 million people infected. While this scourge persists to be a menace to humanity, we are comforted by the fact that through concerted efforts from all Emaswati and various stakeholders, we are on a positive path of bringing this disease under control in the Kingdom.

This has been achieved through the deliberate efforts of Emaswati to wear face masks consistently in public spaces, practice of social distancing, keep their hands clean, avoid crowds as well as the cooperation of many sectors in complying with laid down regulations and protocols. As of today, we only have 159 active cases of COVID-19 in the country. However, while the statistics are promising, the very unpredictable nature of this virus means we cannot for one moment rest on our successes.

Lessons derived from around the world indicate that many countries that once believed were past the worst phase of the COVID-19 pandemic are now grappling with new outbreaks and reverting to more stringent lockdown measures.  We have no option but to learn from these lessons and be more vigilant in all we do, and at all times, to keep safe and save lives and livelihoods.

Disregard of regulations

Unfortunately, Government has noted with serious concern of the behavior of a few individuals across multiple sectors who, over the past weeks, have continued to show complete disregard of COVID-19 regulations. While many Emaswati continue to observe these regulations, we have noted various breaches happening in the transport sector, in sport, in gatherings and in entertainment activities.

Some citizens still refuse to wear face masks when in public or using public transport; others still continue to engage in banned sporting activity including informal football, while others do not adhere to the laid down protocols governing the hosting of gatherings, particularly entertainment activities.

These reckless actions go against the clear & straightforward protocols that Government and the various sectors agreed upon in this ongoing phased re-opening of the economy.

Government takes this moment to remind all citizens, business owners, public transport operators, religious establishments, leisure sites, arts stakeholders and sporting associations that we are still within this COVID-19 battle and such deliberate disregard of the laid down protocols puts the entire country at risk of instigating a spike in infections. It is for this reason that Government is taking a stern disciplinary action against certain establishments for non-compliance to the COVID-19 regulations.

Government will not allow reckless entities or individuals to reverse these immense national gains we have made over a very trying period in our history as nation. We will not hesitate to ban and bring to the law any individual or entity that fails to follow the laid down regulations thus putting the entire country at risk.

Working together with law enforcement agencies, we will upscale surveillance across the country to ensure that COVID-19 regulations are adhered to and that those who breach them are brought to book. We will continue to monitor many other public establishments to ensure compliance.

Alcohol consumption

Government has further noted a disturbing trend following the lifting of the ban in the sale of alcohol, where some Emaswati have visibly reverted to alcohol consumption patterns that are in violation of the COVID-19 regulations. Health evidence indicates that alcohol consumption is a serious driver of the spread of COVID-19.

I take this opportunity to caution outlets selling liquor to strictly adhere to the stipulated regulations that were presented by government to control reckless consumption of alcohol. The regulations prohibit consumption of alcohol in crowded areas, bars or any gathering but only allows it for home consumption and in hotels when food is served. Once again, Government will not hesitate to close establishments that are violating these alcohol regulations.

MSME Support                               

We are happy to note that various sectors of our economy have demonstrated innovation and persistence to ensure that economic activities are sustained amid of the threats of the pandemic.

Government’s efforts to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector are ongoing. A few months ago, Government announced the introduction of a E45 Million MSME Revolving Fund, which seeks to provide financial relief to businesses affected by COVID-19. Even though the implementation of this Fund has taken a bit longer than initially anticipated, I am pleased to announce that it is now near finalisation as its Regulations are now in Parliament.

As another measure to cushion small and medium enterprises, particularly informal traders, Government is also pleased to announce the provision of a E650 subsidy on COVID-19 tests for informal cross border traders. This means cross-border traders will pay a minimal fee of E200 for the test, provided they are included in the list for weekly travel to be submitted to Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade by cross border trade associations.

The agreement reached with cross border trade associations is that only 200 traders will travel per week on a regional rotation. Government has observed that a key feature of informal cross-border trade is that most traders are women, and for these women such trade is often their main or even only source of income. The costs associated with acquiring a COVID-19 test certificate have, therefore, proven to be prohibitive in cross border trade hence the introduction of the subsidy programme.

Relief Fund

Government is also continuing with compensatory relief to workers who suffered loss of earnings as a result of being laid off due to the devastating effects of COVID-19.

A total of 21 368 employees have now been paid from the Relief Fund to date. It must be noted that a majority of the employees who were laid off have since been recalled back to work pursuant to the cautious and gradual opening of economic activity and relaxation of the partial lockdown restrictions. However, those employees who are still on layoff continue to benefit from this Fund. A total sum of E12 794 600 – 00 has since been paid from the Fund.

We encourage all employers who laid off their employees without pay to approach the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for the necessary assistance so that every deserving employee can benefit from this Fund.

Adherence to regulations

May I urge every one of us to take full responsibility in this COVID-19 fight. Most importantly, we should be our brother’s keeper as the Mgcini Campaign we launched a few weeks back calls of us. This means that we should practice exemplary health behavior and inspire those around us to do the same in order to beat COVID-19.

In line with the message of this Campaign, I call upon all citizens to police each other at home, in communities and in public spaces. Let us call each other to order, remind those who do not wear face masks to do so and stop those who continue to play informal football, particularly in the rural areas.

As we head into the busy festive season, we should do so in the knowledge that this is a festive season like no other. Indeed, a killer still lurks among us and any mistake from our side will be punished severely by this deadly, uncompromising enemy.

As a way of managing COVID-19 infections, risk adjusted measures will be applied at any given time when there is evidence of an aggressive surge in infections, particularly those that may be driven by those negligently ignoring the COVID-19 precautions.

It is for that reason that we should not tire of following the laid down protocols consistently;

  1. Wear a face mask consistently and correctly. Avoid touching the front of the mask but use the straps to put it on, adjust or remove it.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
  3. Observe social distancing protocols of one to two metres at all times.
  4. Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation and crowded places, including close-contact settings such as close-range conversations.

May I once again pass my sincere gratitude for the compassionate and collaborative care applied by all frontline workers in this fight with an uncompromising enemy. We have in us the capability to overcome any adversity that threatens our nation if we remain united and determined to save lives and save livelihoods.

Thank you.

Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini

PRIME MINISTER

KINGDOM OF ESWATINI

11 NOVEMBER 2020

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