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LOCK DOWN, TEST, SUPPLY FOOD, MASKS – MPS

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LOBAMBA – Lock down, test, distribute food and masks.  These were the four directives given to Cabinet by Members of Parliament (MPs) during an urgent sitting which was held yesterday in Parliament during the public holiday. 


During a six-hour debate, which proceeded late into the night, Manzini South MP Thandi Nxumalo was the first to move the motion using Standing Order No.58 where the MPs basically tore into government’s implementation of the partial lockdown thus far.
MP Nxumalo submitted that as much as they appreciated some of government’s efforts in the fight against the coronavirus, there were a lot of conflicting statements made by it.


She said government must ensure that it provided the masks for everyone in the country instead of people being made to purchase their own.


Condoms


“In fact, government should prioritise the masks like it did with condoms because at first we were under the impression that the masks were not a necessity,” she submitted.
She added that even the food parcels should be purchased by government and wondered what had happened to the E100 million which had been allocated by Parliament to government for the COVID-19 fight.


She alleged said there was already evidence that the money was now being used through corrupt means.
She stated that legislators should also stop being part of those people who tendered for business, under the COVID-19 umbrella.
“Even if this is not written down, politicians must stop accessing those funds,” she said.


After 8pm, the MPs passed a motion directing government to procure and supply, food, masks  and sanitisers to the public within 14 days.
MP Nxumalo said emaSwati would in fact not be killed by COVID-19, but by hunger because a majority of them did not have food yet the virus thrived in people who had a weakened immune system.


Money


She was supported by Motshane MP Robert Magongo, who wanted to know how the money which was being collected by the Resource Mobilisation Committee was being utilised because such money could also be allocated to the purchasing of masks.
Gege MP Musa Kunene said the nation was confused because one minister said no one would be allowed into public transport without wearing a mask while another minister sang a different tune.


“Is the 22 (now 24) recorded positive cases a true picture or is it just along the Mbabane-Manzini corridor?” asked MP Kunene. He asked the Minister of Health, Lizzie Nkosi, how many people had been tested in Gege for the virus  in order for the ministry to boldly give out the current statistics.
“What is happening on the ground because I know that South Africa is on full lockdown, meanwhile we are on partial lockdown and now with the relaxed partial lockdown, I am not even sure what we are doing,” said MP Kunene.


He said government’s behaviour was a sure way to ensure that emaSwati would die because of the way it was going on about it.
He said government was treating Parliament like a stokvel. He also wondered when the food parcels would start being distributed by government.
He suggested that the statistics should come from each Inkhundla once government had conducted tests there.


Mkhiweni MP Michael Masuku also wondered what the funds which had been initially allocated for the King’s Birthday celebrations were being utilised for, because that money could have been used to purchase food parcels for the various communities in the country.


He said during the first leg of the partial lockdown, people were used to staying at home, but with the relaxation of the regulations, people were once again up and about.


Meanwhile, Mpolonjeni MP Jacob Siwela also supported his colleagues in the distribution of food parcels as soon as possible, stating that it did not make sense for government to ask people to stay at home, while they had nothing to eat.
He also supported the notion that the masks and hand sanitisers should all come from government instead of the people. He insisted that the food parcels must be a priority.


On a similar note, Shiselweni Region MP Nokuthula Dlamini said government should consider supporting rural communities in the making of the masks because it was a fact that people continued to share them.


Masks


She also wondered how much the masks were supposed to cost because some of the shops still sold them for E20 including the surgical ones, which could only be utilised once.  The MP said the food parcels from government should also include sanitary pads.    


Lomahasha MP Ndumiso Masimula said he had made several phone calls trying to establish where he could purchase a few masks, but the company he was directed to by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade informed him that they could only accept bulk orders.
He questioned how the testing process was going now that Eswatini could conduct its own tests.


Meanwhile, Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo said when they passed the E100 million, they did not know what was happening on the ground.
He wondered if it was enough, adding that the current government was killing the Tinkhundla System of governance.


Transporting


MP Khumalo said government could even cut costs if for example they could distribute 2 000 masks per inkhundla and that as legislators they would gladly assist with transporting the masks to their various constituencies.


“There are 59 MPs whom you could utilise, but nothing has been done in that regard as this could even save transport costs for government,” said Khumalo. He said even an amount of E30 million could be set aside to provide the masks for the entire population if that was the case.

 
He said government needed to purchase food and distribute it to the tinkhundla centres, which was something government had previously done in 2013.     
He said this would come in the form of 1 000 x 50kg maize meal bags and 500 bags of beans for each inkhundla.


He said it would be reported that people were killed by the virus, yet it was hunger. 
Maphalaneni MP Mabulala Maseko said the food which could be distributed for now included the commodities under the school feeding programmes, which were rotting in the schools.

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