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ALCOHOL BAN: ‘PM, CABINET TO BLAME, NOT KING’

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MBABANE - His Majesty King Mswati III is not behind the prolonged alcohol ban and should not be blamed. 

Furthermore, the Prime Minister, Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, has stated that he and his Cabinet team were solely to blame for the non-production, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. 

Dlamini said this yesterday during a breakfast meeting with the Eswatini Editors Forum at the Hilton Garden Inn.  

In essence, the alcohol ban has been extended indefinitely as the premier said they were still reviewing reports from health experts; and changes, if any, would be announced. This was after the PM had announced the reopening of some sectors of the entertainment and sports industry. 

Authorities 

The Editors Forum asked if there was any truth to stories being circulated, particularly on social media, that Eswatini Beverages was being stifled by the country’s authorities, who allegedly wanted to be shareholders in the company and if so, would this not have the potential of turning away investors from the country.

It was highlighted that Eswatini was also the only country not allowing the sale of alcohol, particularly in the SADC Region. 

Meanwhile, Editor of The Nation Magazine, Bheki Makhubu, blatantly informed the PM that he and his Cabinet were failing to handle the issue of the alcohol ban well. 

Makhubu said emaSwati were getting agitated about this matter and were expressing their views on social media, which was the only avenue they had to express themselves as government was silent on the matter. 

“Many people are of the view that the King is holding the country to ransom where it concerns the liquor issue,” submitted Makhubu. He said the King’s name was now being put in bad light and his reputation continued being tainted because government was mum on the issue.  

He said emaSwati who consumed alcohol wanted their booze.  He further stated that there was no link to COVID-19 and the consumption of alcohol, adding that it was not a health issue. 

“Address us on this issue and do not lie to us with excuses that are not true,” said Makhubu.  

“Sinatsa imali yetfu,” he submitted in vernacular and further quipped that he and the likes of Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training Bertram Stewart, drank their alcohol. 

“Asibunatsi ngani tjwala ekhayakitsi?” further asked Makhubu, which can be translated to mean; ‘why is alcohol not allowed in the country?’. In response, the PM said at no point had the King ever spoken of alcohol and it was in fact himself and Cabinet who had been addressing the issue of the alcohol ban.  “Let us not include the head of State in this matter,” said the PM. 

Meeting 

He said perhaps before the end of the year, they needed to organise a meeting with the media and health experts where they could relay the link between COVID-19 and alcohol consumption. 

“This is purely government’s position and we are currently reviewing the report of the health experts and we do not want to put innocent lives at risk,” said Dlamini. He said the argument that there was no correlation between liquor and COVID-19 was debatable. The PM further told the editors not to complicate the issue as their decision had been based solely on the advice from health experts. He said government had announced that it would review the report at the end of September, which was what was currently obtaining. 

He said as government, they could not be forced to constantly respond to allegations made on social media as every day there were all sorts of fake news. 

He insisted that there was no involvement of anything to do with Eswatini Beverages or shares in the issue. He said they were aware of the economic challenges imposed by the ban, but they were doing all in their power to balance the economy while also saving lives. 



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Should the minister of Health, PS and director of health services be relieved of their duties for failing to solve the problems engulfing the public health sector?