The Prime Minister of Swaziland (eSwatini) has announced all informal border crossings with South Africa will be closed in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The crossings are used every day by people who live in Swaziland and go to South Africa for schooling, work, trading or to shop.
PM Ambrose Dlamini made the announcement after the first case of coronavirus was reported in South Africa. As of Tuesday 10 March 2020 no cases had been reported in Swaziland itself.
The Times of eSwatini reported the closure of the borders would affect thousands of people who regularly crossed. It said many people who lived in the area did not know that Swaziland and South Africa were two separate countries.
Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch, was left out of the list of countries the World Health Organisation to benefit from personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves being distributed to poor countries.
The Swazi Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi told media the exclusion was because eSwatini was not considered to be a poor country.
In Swaziland nearly seven in ten of the estimated 1.3 million people live in abject poverty.
Meanwhile, the King and the royal family live in luxury. The King has 13 palaces and two private jet aircraft. In November 2019 he purchased between 13 and 15 Rolls Royce cars for himself and members of his family at an estimated cost of US$4 million.
Swaziland also bought him 126 BMW cars and motorbikes to escort the Royal family around the kingdom.
These purchases prompted Lisa Peterson, the United States Ambassador to Swaziland to speculate that in future the US might not be keen to give Swaziland development aid.
On Monday (9 March 2020) the Swazi House of Assembly approved a budget of E48 million towards the cost of tackling the coronavirus. The Ministry of Finance had asked for E100 million. Swaziland is broke and cannot pay its suppliers. Recently a number of government offices had electricity disconnected because bills were unpaid.
The government also owes millions of emalangeni to medical suppliers and medicines of all types have run out or are in short supply in public hospitals.
The President of the Swaziland Nurses Association Bheki Mamba has advised health workers not to deal with patients who have the coronavirus. The Saturday Observer newspaper in Swaziland reported Mamba said government had not identified quarantine centres and had no strategy in place to deal with the virus. He added that health workers had not been trained to deal with the virus.
He added this posed a great danger to the lives of health workers.
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