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MBABANE – Emaswati are divided on whether government should prioritise saving lives or the economy.

There are mixed feelings on whether or not the country should implement a full lockdown to save lives in the midst of the raging COVID-19 second wave or prioritise the ailing economy.
 The debate is centred on saving lives and giving the overstretched health system a breather or prioritising economic activity with the hopes of retaining jobs. Eswatini has been ranked top in Africa and 14th in the world on COVID-19 deaths while nurses projected 3 700 COVID-19 deaths by December 2021. As of Wednesday, there were 13 443 confirmed cases and 403 related deaths.


On top of that, it is still not known when the country will receive the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine while other countries like South Africa have started receiving same. Nodding to the idea of implementing a full lockdown for at least two to three weeks was the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) through its Secretary General, Mduduzi Gina. He said the country was in a catch 22 situation and a full-scale lockdown would be an appropriate move under the circumstances. He said the movements that were witnessed in public places like bus terminals were a serious cause for concern. He also submitted that government had to negotiate some tax relief for employers in exchange for them paying the workers during the lockdown.

“The Eswatini Revenue Authority (SRA) may have to stop collecting Pay As You Earn (PAYE) on the salaries of workers as a government contribution. We are in a dire situation, we need decisive leadership. This is the time that the government should be seen protecting the nation from extinction,” he said. Also supporting the idea of a full lockdown was Federation of Eswatini Business Community (FESBC) Hhohho Chairperson Johannes Manikela, who stated that for businesses, the already implemented regulations were placing them on lockdown.
Manikela said the full lockdown should not be designed to frustrate the economic activity because the country and its citizens still needed to generate income or revenue.


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: Salary review/job losses
What should PSAs choose, job losses or salary review?