Nearly 15,000 people in Swaziland (eSwatini) could be laid off work without pay because the government has reintroduced a ban on alcohol distribution during the coronavirus lockdown.
The prediction came from Swaziland National Liquor Association (SNLA) Secretary General, Thamsanqa Hlatshwako.
He said 14,800 workers could be laid off. He said there were 3,700 liquor licence holders known to the SNLA and each employed an average of four people.
He said the ban of alcohol would have a devastating impact on the liquor industry’s workers.
The Times of eSwatini reported on Thursday (25 June 2020), ‘Hlatshwayo said they would not be able to remunerate any employees for the next two months’.
The Swazi Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini announced earlier in the week his government had overturned a previous decision to allow the wholesale and distribution of alcohol. It had previously been banned as one of a series of measures to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The new ban would be in place from 1 July 2020 for up to two months.
The Times reported, ‘Given the ban of alcohol by government, he [Hlatshwako] said the economic repercussions would have a devastating impact on the liquor industry’s workers.’
Hlatshwako said workers would be on unpaid layoffs for the duration of the ban and some of them would lose their jobs permanently.
In May, it was reported 224,000 bottles of beer were to be destroyed because they had passed their sell-by dates because they could not be sold during the lockdown.
In other coronavirus developments in Swaziland:
MEMBERS OF THE Swaziland Senate complained that precautions were not being taken to protect them from the virus at the Senate House as there was no sanitation or screening. Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku urged them to use facemasks but some complained they were uncomfortable. Masuku said Senate should be fumigated every time senators leave the house.
KING MSWATI III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, pleaded with the Commonwealth to support private business in the kingdom to create jobs once the pandemic was over. His Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini made a speech on his behalf to a virtual meeting of Commonwealth leaders.
THERE HAD BEEN a total of 690 positive cases and seven deaths (including a 17-year-old boy) as of 24 June 2020 in Swaziland since the crisis began, according to official figures from the Ministry of Health. The 17-year-old had pre-existing chest conditions.
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