Monday 23 December 2019

It is my honour to extend to everyone in the Kingdom of Eswatini, His Majesty’s Government’s very best wishes for a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Christmas is essentially a time for profound and joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Within the strong Christian faith that is so prominent in our society, the annual commemoration will again be filled with melodious gospel music and prayer in churches across the Kingdom. 

Christmas provides the ideal moment to reflect on how truly wonderful it is that we live in a global society that, whilst not without its problems, is broadly at peace. And such a prevailing peace is entirely dependent on the contribution that each country makes.

None can be as proud and admired, for its history of peaceful collaboration, love and respect for its culture and leadership, as the Kingdom of Eswatini. 

As we move into the new year, let us pray that the global commitment to peace and stability extends to a devoted and credible pledge to slow down global warming to the target levels. Human development realised across the country and the world cannot be reassuring when it is being replaced by the very real risk of global destruction through climate change.  That requires all signatories to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord to take the necessary steps to strengthen their respective national climate plans.  Our voice and influence in the global arena matters, as well as the steps we take to move steadily into renewable energy generation in the coming months and years. 

As we review our place in the world, let us also remind ourselves of who we are as emaSwati, and to what we should commit ourselves in this festive season and the year to come. We are a nation widely respected for the internal stability and harmony that we so greatly value, and hugely appreciated for the friendliness with which we treat each other and the thousands of visitors attracted to our country by the beauty and variety of climate and landscape. 

I take this opportunity to welcome all our visitors to the Kingdom and encourage you to explore our wide variety of attractions, enjoy the ambience of a vibrant, safe and fun environment and marvel at the warmth and cordial welcome you will receive from emaSwati from all corners of the country. Welcome to the best destination to visit in Africa in 2020, as nominated by Lonely Planet, and to the 5th best country to visit in the World.

In common with every country of the world we, in Eswatini, have individuals who choose to flout the rules and codes of behaviour. My appeal is that let us do away with unacceptable incidents of violence against women and children. Let us also be sensible and respectful on the roads. We have laws and penalties in place to prevent disregard for the safety of others, and to punish those who disregard road rules or drive under the influence of alcohol or other similar harmful substances.  There will be a very high level of police vigilance and zero tolerance to crime. 

Christmas for so many is a joyous time – one of giving and receiving, of sharing happy moments with family and friends. For the needy and vulnerable, however, this period of the year will merely be a continuation of tough living conditions.  May I ask all of you to make a truly caring effort to give one or more of such people some relief from their difficulties over this festive season. In the words of scripture capturing the Christmas spirit, “blessed is the hand that gives than the one that takes.”

Christmas and the crossover into the New Year will not erase the challenges of the present day but it will allow, and indeed demand, the time to make resolutions. 

One in the broader sense is the commitment to harmonious consultation and collaboration. No country in the world is without disagreement among its population. But the winners are those that sit together and resolve misunderstanding.  Emaswati are a team, and a team that works together prospers together. The empirical evidence for that is clearly visible in the profile of every stable and prosperous nation of the world. 

As we reflect on the progress achieved in 2019, we can be assured of Government’s commitment to accelerating efforts of national development and stability. We have made remarkable strides as a nation during the year in the midst of fiscal challenges that have not just affected Eswatini but the region and the world as well.

Through growth focussed measures taken from the National Development Plan, the austerity measures announced at the end of last year and in our Strategic Roadmap launched in May, we have been able to reduce and stabilise government expenditure, reduce the accumulation of arrears, moderated the inflation rate to below 2 percent, attracted big investments into our country creating about 7000 direct jobs, revived the Youth Revolving Fund to allow our youth to have access to business finance, among others.

Eswatini has also improved in five indicators of the Ease of Doing Business which include the period of starting a business, getting electricity, registering property, dealing with contractors and resolving insolvency.

Our gross national reserves have been stabilised and Free Primary Education (FPE) support was successfully disbursed for all deserving learners. This includes payment of grants, stationery and text books to all learners in public schools.

We continue to see harmony between the three arms of Government and going forward we hope it will be sustained and improved. Parliament has worked very well in the current year, passing a number of bills.

Government is acutely aware that despite these gains, we have a lot of ground to cover to reduce poverty and unemployment and set this country on a trajectory of sustained economic growth and stability.  And yes, despite the improvement in some indicators of the Ease of Doing Business the country regressed slightly in the overall index. This leaves us with no option but to redouble of efforts to ensure we remain a preferred destination for investment. While our economy is slowly showing signs of recovery, we continue to experience financial challenges that have strained some of our budgetary obligations and made it impossible to award Civil Servants a Cost of Living Adjustment.

Government commits to the pledge of making the crossover into the third decade of this century a time of acceleration in achieving greater prosperity for all emaSwati. We will forge ahead with the implementation of the Strategic Roadmap and the National Development Strategy.

That will mean taking the achievements of the first year of office to a heightened pace of delivery in a renewed climate of results-based management.  What will be launched very early in the new year is a programme of high level leadership interaction to monitor the effectiveness of the new culture of being judged by achievement.

I will personally hold high-level implementation meetings, focusing primarily, though not exclusively, on our 2019 pledge to the Nation in the form of the Government Strategic Roadmap.  Part of the performance monitoring toolkit will be the Balanced Scorecard, a high-level performance oversight technique that is widely utilised across the world. 

The primary objective will be faster economic growth in the form of expansion of production of goods and services of value, and a continued strengthening of public sector finances.  More jobs, less poverty, combined with a dedication to improved and efficient public service delivery.

As I conclude, may I once again, on behalf of His Majesty the King and iNgwenyama, Her Majesty the Queen Mother Mhlekazi, and His Majesty’s Government, wish all emaSwati and residents of Eswatini a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.


Thank you.

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