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Leaked Cabinet telephone conversations: King refuses to lift ban on alcohol despite public pressure

Saturday, 3rd October, 2020

MBABANE: A telephone communication involving Cabinet Ministers has confirmed how King Mswati allegedly refused to lift the ban on alcohol as he intensify moves to force Eswatini Beverages investors to shut down.

This comes after Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini who had earlier promised to give an update and possibly lift the ban on the 1st October 2020 'depending on the COVID-19 situation' was subsequently forced to mislead the Nation on the matter saying he will wait for a report from the Ministry of Health before taking any decision.  

But a Cabinet telephone communication seen by this Swaziland News confirms that the ban was not imposed by the Prime Minister but came through an order from the King. The communication suggests that even Cabinet Ministers including the Prime Minister are on 'the dark' when exactly the ban on alcohol will be lifted and one Minister who seemed frustrated says he now understands what the progressive movement has been saying about the current political system.

“The people are now angry, now I understand what the progressives mean” said the Minister.

King Mswati rules this tiny Kingdom of eSwatini as an absolute Monarch with Executive, Judicial and Legislative powers, his word automatically becomes the law and cannot be challenged even through the courts or Parliament.

On or around 18th September 2020, this Swaziland News reported that King Mswati allegedly manipulated COVID-19 regulations to ban alcohol threatening multi-million investments by the Eswatini Beverages and other liquor outlets after learning that the industry was generating more revenue but few reached his pocket through shares and the traditional custom known as kwetfula(presenting gifts to the King)

Victor Malambe, the Mhlume Member of Parliament who tried to move a motion to force Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini to lift the ban had to bow to royal pressure and withdraw the motion without stating reasons.

Reached for comments by this publication, Thamsanqa Hlatswako, the Secretary General of the Swaziland National Liquor Association told this Swaziland News during an interview that many liquor businesses has forced to shut down as a result of the ban.

"Government failed to provide convincing reasons why alcohol remain banned, many businesses has been forced to shut down , it might take over ten(10) years to restore this industry\" said the liquor.

On or around 16th September 2020, Eswatini Beverages Corporate Affairs department released a statement through the digital media that demonstrated the company's  frustrations over the ban.

"If it continues , it will contribute to the growing poverty, hunger and mortality rates in the very communities it aims to protect. Thousands of people are at risk right now. It's not just people at big alcohol brands that will suffer, this will have devastating effects on small haven owners, restaurant employees, bars and liquor stores as well as SMMEs, packaging and logistics companies across Eswatini. We urgently need to find a solutions and we are ready to help" read the statement from Eswatini Beverages.

Leaked Cabinet telephone conversations: King refuses to lift ban on alcohol despite public pressure
King Mswati