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ROLLS-ROYCES PURCHASED PRIVATELY, NOT BY GOVT – PM

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MBABANE – Government has set the record straight on the purchase of the fleet of Rolls-Royce cars which caused a frenzy, particularly in social media.
Head of government, Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, emphasised that the continued attack on His Majesty King Mswati III in relation to the purchase of vehicles, particularly, the Rolls Royce fleet, was misinformed.


He said these vehicles were purchased privately and not through the public purse and no money from the national budget went to the purchase of these cars.
The PM said they had noted that opportunists had taken advantage of the current situation to ridicule the head of State through misinformation that serves their own agendas.


He asserted that government had noted the proliferation of misguided utterances on social media and international media forums and would like to advise emaswati to refuse to be drawn by elements that intended to destabilise the peace synonymous with our kingdom. This was during a press conference held at the Cabinet Offices yesterday.


“We respect and recognise the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. These rights do not extend to hate speech, inciting violence or supporting organisations that have been proscribed for terrorist activities in the kingdom,” he said.


Protest


The PM said persons considering taking part in protest actions should ensure that they did not violate the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 as amended, or the Public Order Act of 2017 or any other law. He said violators of the law would be prosecuted.
“It is the responsibility of all emaswati to respect and protect the integrity of the King and Ingwenyama as Head of State.

Government will not tolerate statements that are demeaning to the person of His Majesty and the institution of the Monarchy. We appeal to all emaswati to always project the respect for which we are proudly known for as we have no other country but Eswatini. Currently, the nation is in the season of Incwala where we expect all emaswati to respect our tradition,” he added.


Dlamini further said His Majesty’s government was committed to protecting the peace and stability Eswatini had always been known for globally and they shall always be open to advice and criticism when their decisions were challenged.


Meanwhile, the PM was on record saying government takes full responsibility of the purchase of the BMW VIP and escort vehicles.
It was confirmed that there were 126 units bought by government from a BMW plant in South Africa. The purchase of the fleet came against  the backdrop of an ailing economy, where the country was struggling to meet its obligations.


From the 126 units, 42 are BMW K1600 GT motorcycles while the remaining 84 units are made up of BMW X3 xDrive 3.0d and BMW 540i models.
“Government receives the public criticism regarding the purchase of the vehicles given the current financial situation in the country.  It is worth noting that the decision to replace the fleet was taken in July 2018 before austerity measures were put in place.

A commitment was made with the supplier at that time hence the agreement could not be reversed now as doing so could lead to litigation which would come with adverse consequences for government,” he asserted.


Dlamini said as previously stated, the purchase of this fleet was in line with government policy to replace cars after five years. He said most of the VIP and escort vehicles being replaced now were 11 years old and others were no longer roadworthy, which was a huge cost to government as they had to constantly cater for the repairs of the cars. He said government saved a lot of money from having a newer fleet because it came with a warranty and service plan.

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