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 MBABANE – Government has closed up to 52 businesses for alleged failure to observe COVID-19 regulations. At least nine had their trading licences suspended.  This follows random spot checks in three regions that include Shiselweni, Manzini and Hhohho.

Compliance regulations during these times of COVID-19 include the use of protective clothing and sanitising, among other things. Registrar of Companies and Acting Chief Commercial Officer Msebe Malinga made this revelation when updating Senators on the ongoing inspections that the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade (CIT) was currently conducting in collaboration with the Royal Eswatini Police Service.


On Wednesday, the ICT ministry met with members of the senate Portfolio Committee to update them on how government was managing the effects of the COVID-19 impact on business.
The closure of the businesses was confirmed through a statement from CIT Minister Manqoba Khumalo.
“The ministry has closed 52 businesses so far due to unlawful business practices and suspended nine trading licences.

Some businesses continue to deliberately contravene the COVID-19 measures,” reads the statement.
The names of the affected businesses have been deliberately withheld pending ongoing internal processes that include appeals, but reports suggest they are from various sectors.
According to the minister, the meeting also sought to get feedback from the senators on how they felt government was managing the situation and to further update them on the Economic Recovery Strategy.
Also present was Chief Executive Officer of the Eswatini Competition Commission (CompCo) Muzi Dlamini, who updated the senators on the guidelines that were currently being developed by the Commission on excessive pricing and unfair trade practices.
The senators, on the other hand, also shared concerns that they expected government to address.

“They implored government to consider the cost of doing business in the country; which they felt may be contributing to price escalations
“They asked for a formula within which government that determined businesses to operate; to which the Ministry responded that we were being guided by the ministry of Health,” reads the statement.

They senators further asked how government determined the quality of sanitisers being used and the ministry responded that a standard had already been developed by the Eswatini Standards Authority to test them.  Equipment is said to have already been ordered to test the sanitisers.

The senators also want a session with key ministries such as Finance, Labour and Social Security, Housing and Urban Development and Commerce, Industry and Trade where they would be able to express their concerns and seek solutions together.
They asked government to continue opening the economy in a responsible manner and further commended government for introducing business interventions in the interim. They decried the E90 million Relief Fund for small businesses which was launched by government. They were not convinced that it was assisting the micro, small and medium enterprises.

“As a ministry, we appreciate the senators’ concerns and value their contributions; which we are taking with the seriousness they deserve. We shall continue to engage them with a view of finding a lasting solution to the situation,” said the minister.

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