MSMEs are the backbone of economic growth- Mluleki Dlamini

20 February 2024

Mluleki Dlamini is celebrating 20 years in the civil service this year and has risen to become the Director of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Department under the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade. In our latest civil servants’ blog, Dlamini talks about his work empowering MSMEs in Eswatini.

Government Communications (GC): “When did you join the Civil Service?”

Mluleki Dlamini (MD): “I joined the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini in 2004.”

GC: “What is your current job now and what does it entail? Please elaborate.

MD: “On 14 May 2018, I was appointed Director Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Department, a position I am occupying to date. I am a Trade Economist by specialisation, having acquired vast knowledge and experience in trade negotiations and implementation of international trade agreements and have served the Government of Eswatini for 20 years. I hold a B.A. in Social Science majoring in Economics and Demography and Master in Law - Intellectual Property.”

GC: “Before this role, what other positions did you occupy in the Service?”

MD: “I started out in 2004 as an Export Development Officer under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In December 2007, I was promoted to the post of Trade Policy Analyst. In November 2009, I assumed the position of Senior Trade Policy Analyst until May 2018 when I became Director.”

GC: “What is the role of the MSME Department? How do you think it benefits the ordinary liSwati?”

MD: “The principal role of the Department is the development and promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises through the creation of a conducive business environment supported by strategies and policies. The overall benefit is the improvement in the livelihoods of people of Eswatini through entrepreneurship.”

GC: “What have been some of the achievements/milestones recorded by the Department under your leadership?”

MD: “They are countless but in a nutshell, the enactment of the Citizen Economic Empowerment Act; the development of the MSME Financing Model; the construction and operationalisation of the Manzini Trade Hub; as well as the establishment of financial support schemes such as the Informal Traders’ Revolving Fund and the MSME Revolving Fund.”

GC: “What kind of role do MSMEs play in the growth of an economy and how is Government supporting local MSMEs?”

MD: “MSMEs are the backbone of economic growth through provision of employment and income generating activities. MSMEs’ development addresses issues of poverty and to some extent, brings social stability. Government has continued to support MSMEs through financial assistance and business development support services. All these initiatives are collaboratively provided by Government with development partners.”

GC: “So far, what would you say the biggest highlight/achievement of your Civil Service journey has been?”

MD: “My biggest highlight/achievement was during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown when borders were closed for cross borders traders. The Department, with a budget support from Government, was able to provide COVID-19 testing at a subsidised fee for cross-border traders so that they could continue to earn a living through their cross-border trade. Even during restrictions of business operations, vendors were accommodated to continue to trade, although under restricted conditions.”

GC: “What is the biggest project that you have been involved in working for Government?”

MD: “Seeing the Manzini Trade Hub, “Inhlanganisela yabomake,” finally operational. Informal traders are now trading in a decent space than the Satellite Bus Rank where they sold their products before, under unbearable climatic conditions.”

GC: “What do you love the most about working in Government?”

MD: “Being a civil servant requires result-oriented commitment and I am proud of the many achievements that have impacted the MSME sector under my leadership. My best moments are the interactions we get to have with the sector, understanding their challenges and then providing solutions.”

GC: “What do you love the most about your job and profession?”

MD: “Providing solutions for businesses that are in distress and thereafter seeing them progressing in their journey to success.”

GC: “What would you say are some of the challenges that come with your job?”

MD: “Limited financial and human resources which tends to hinder progress in our programmes but we do endeavour to overcome them and deliver succinctly.”

GC: “What lessons have you learnt working for Government?”

MD: “Humbleness and patience when dealing with stakeholders is important.”

GC: “What advice would you have for someone who wants to work for Government?”

MD: “They should be ready for challenges and look forward to serving the public diligently.”

GC: “What are your aspirations for the future in Government?”

MD: “To continue assisting enterprises to the best of my ability with the necessary support they require. I wish to see most businesses in the medium sector graduating to become large enterprises and Multi-National Corporations.”


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Mbabane, Eswatini – Following the pronouncement of an extension of the partial lockdown, Government will be introducing gradual relaxation of business operations effective Thursday 16th April 2020.

This means over and above essential businesses, non-essential businesses that will operate are only those classified as low risk.

The following industries identified as essential will continue to operate:

  1. 1. Food and Agriculture; which includes:
  • Those involved in the food value chain
  1. 2. Retail and consumer goods suppliers, which include:
  • Consumer Goods suppliers
  • Food Retailers e.g. food outlets, raw material suppliers and farmers
  • Those involved in the transportation, logistics and packaging of consumer goods
  • Other Retail Goods that support the medical industry e.g. bedding, linen and emergency clothing for hospitals, health workers and those caring for the sick
  1. 3. Network Infrastructure; which include:
  • Water, waste water and sanitation
  • Electricity suppliers
  • Renewable Energy suppliers
  • Gas suppliers
  • Fuel suppliers
  • Law enforcement
  • Defence, Safety and Security
  • Waste disposal
  • Fire and Emergency services
  • Mining and power stations
  1. 4. Medical and Health; which include:
  • Hospitals
  • Devices and Equipment
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Funders
  • Doctors, nurses, paramedics e.t.c.
  1. 5. Forestry and Sawmills
  • For the production of disposable, health and hygiene products including toilet paper as well as for packaging for food and the health supply chain.
  1. 6. IT Systems and Telecommunications
  2. 7. Finance and Insurance
  3. 8. Tourism and Hospitality
  4. 9. Communications e.g. Media
  5. 10. Hardware Shops
  6. 11. Public Transport and cross-border trade transport
  • These will operate under the guidelines that Government has issued.
  • For cross-border transport, this will be restricted to essential services as defined in Eswatini, South Africa and Mozambique
  1. 12. Funeral Parlours
  2. 13. Spares Shops
  3. 14. Retail outlets selling baby clothes and baby essentials – These shall open three times a week (on Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays), between 10am and 3pm.

Meanwhile, the following non-essential industries are hereby classified as follows:


  • Car Wash businesses
  • Construction
  • Craft Vendors
  • Food vendors
  • Stationery Shops
  • Car dealerships
  • Warehousing
  • Agents and consultants
  • Photographic studios
  • Workshops and repairs
  • Cleaning services
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Driving Schools
  • Breakdown Services
  • Hawkers
  • Furniture Shops
  • Manufacturers who will observe the WHO and Ministry of Health Guidelines
  • Clothing Shops – These shall operate under the same conditions as retail outlets selling baby clothes and accessories.

High Risk

  • Hair dressing salons and barber shops
  • Manufacturing, distribution and wholesaling of liquor
  • Beauty parlours and gymnasiums
  • Night clubs and entertainment venues
  • Cinemas and theatres
  • Travel agents
  • Auctioneers
  • Clothing Street Vendors (Bend & Pick)

Municipalities and law enforcement agents will continue to exercise controls where appropriate. Those that have not been included in the above list will have to apply for permits to operate; on conditions that will be prescribed by the Ministry. However, businesses dealing in cross-border trade will still be required to produce a permit at the border.

All businesses that will operate will have to adhere strictly to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health Guidelines. These include social distancing as well as the sanitation of workplaces and clients. Wearing of masks is recommended to minimise the risk of transmission.

Thank you.

Released by:

Senator Manqoba B. Khumalo

Minister for Commerce, Industry and Trade

15th April 2020

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