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PM, MINISTERS BREACH COVID-19 CROWD REGULATIONS

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 MPULUZI – The Prime Minister, Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, and some of  his Cabinet members breached the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Regulations of 2020 yesterday.
This happened at the Mhlambanyatsi Constituency, during a COVID-19 sensitisation exercise that was attended by over 100 people.


In attendance were Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg, Minister of Tinkhundla Administration and Development David ‘Cruiser’ Ngcamphalala and the Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga.
The Manzini Regional Administrator, Prince Chief Gija and Speaker in the House of Assembly Petros Mavimbela, were also present.


According to Section 25 (1) of the COVID-19 regulations, in order to contain the spread of the virus, a gathering of more than 20 people is prohibited.
Subsection (2) reads; ‘The Prime Minister may from time to time vary and give direction on the maximum number of people who may be part of a gathering.
(3) An enforcement officer shall, where a gathering takes place -
(a) Order the persons at the gathering to disperse immediately; and


(b) If they refuse to disperse, take appropriate action, which may, subject to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, include arrest and detention.
All the above rules stipulated by the regulations were not followed during the gathering which was also attended by police and health workers. Justifying the violation of the regulations, the prime minister said police officers should be lenient and not arrest them as the meeting was aimed at raising awareness on COVID-19.


“We are way above the stipulated number allowed by the regulations, but because it is a sensitisation gathering, it may be allowed to proceed.”
Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi said she was informed about the breaching of the regulations by her boss and Cabinet members. Nkosi said she wanted to know how they would conduct the COVID-19 sensitisation exercise and whether they would be able to follow the precautionary measures. She was promised that the rules would be followed. However, she said she later received feedback from the PM that it became impossible to observe some of the rules. The minister said the regulations were breached, despite that social distancing and hand washing was considered and done.


Discouraged


She said the country discouraged such due to the situation (on the ground of COVID-19).
“The issue here is the mass gathering and the more people mingle is when the virus continues to spread, which is what is being controlled by government.”
Nkosi said while the country was trying to relax the regulations, they were careful how they would be implemented. She said other countries which increased the number of people at social gatherings realised their mistake and had to immediately withdraw the relaxation of their rules.


Meanwhile, the PM said COVID-19 was an unusual ailment that had brought the world to a standstill ever since its outbreak. He said adjustments had to be made from the normal lifestyles, including social distancing, remaining at home and limiting movement. This, he said had never been experienced by mankind in the past, which went to show that it was a very unknown sickness.
The PM said it was His Majesty King Mswati III who commanded government to declare a national emergency, which gave birth to the National Task Force that coordinates all the efforts to fight COVID-19.


According to Dlamini, the National Task Force, working through many clusters including regional teams, had covered a lot of ground in educating emaSwati about the virus and easing the burden many citizens were carrying in the midst of the pandemic that has caused the closure of many small and medium sized businesses and others. He commended the country’s good leadership shown by His Majesty. Further, he thanked the nation for its cooperation and ensuring that they protected themselves at all times as they understood the seriousness of the virus. Dlamini mentioned that they were driving all their efforts as government through the Tinkhundla system. He said the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development was working with all the stakeholders in fighting the pandemic.


“This sensitisation exercise demonstrates the strength and relevance of the Tinkhundla system of governance, whose core mandate is grassroots development,” said the PM.
He said government was benefitting from the efficiency of the Tinkhundla system, which had a strong link with the people on the ground to ensure that COVID-19 messages were spread to more people. Meanwhile, he said using Tinkhundla structures, they had been able to spread COVID-19 information and health precaution messages that were crucial in equipping all the people at all levels on how to deal with the pandemic.
“Knowledge is power and government is confident that the sensitisation exercise has impacted adequate knowledge needed to fight the pandemic,” he said.


The PM said it was not yet time to relax and slow down in reaching more people. “We expect community representatives to embark on a door-to-door sensitisation exercise of their own. Community leaders have a huge role to play in ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 regulations in their communities,” the pm stated.


He further acknowledged the partnership forged with Montigny relating to the provision of accommodation for employees posted at the newly-built inkhundla structure.
He said the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development reached an agreement with Montigny to acquire the old inkhundla structure for its use in exchange of building staff houses for the workers.
When reached for comment regarding the violation of the COVID-19 regulations, …..

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