GOVERNMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF ESWATINI
PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE
STATEMENT BY H.E. THE RIGHT HON. PRIME MINISTER
MR. AMBROSE MANDVULO DLAMINI
AT THE ILO GLOBAL SUMMIT ON COVID 19 AND THE WORLD OF WORK 2020 (VIRTUAL)
WEDNESDAY 08 JULY 2020
The Kingdom of Eswatini congratulates the International Labour Organization for remaining steadfast and providing leadership as well as material support to its constituent partners in these unprecedented times of COVID 19.
Convening the Virtual ILO Global Summit on COVID 19 and the World of Work gives us as constituent members of this organization hope that, notwithstanding the novelty of COVID 19, it will never be bigger than our natural inclination to get together and solve our problems as a collective.
The ILO is known for dialogue and collective problem solving. I hope that the organization will draw deep into its wealth of experience and use that to contain the spread and effects of COVID 19 in the world.
Since the outbreak of COVID 19, over 10 million have tested positive and slightly above 500,000 have died worldwide. In Eswatini the first positive case was reported on the 14th March, 2020.
At the outbreak of the disease the Kingdom of Eswatini, under the leadership of His Majesty the King Mswati III, declared a National Emergency on the 17th March 2020 and thereafter promulgated Corona Virus Regulations which were followed by specific guidelines dealing with sector specific prevention measures.
The guidelines were developed through consultative processes by various clusters of the National Emergency Task team which includes workers and employer representatives. The overarching objective of the National Emergency was to delay the upsurge of cases and allow our health system to better prepare and not be overwhelmed. The guidelines which came with the declaration of a partial lockdown included restricting movement of people, ensuring maximum adherence to hygiene protocols and health precautions, among others. These guidelines were drawn mainly from those provided by the WHO and ILO.
Our resources to contain the spread the spread of the disease have been stretched. International development partners, citizens and business organizations have generously contributed in replenishing these much needed resources.
Partners who have contributed, in no particular order of size of contribution, include the Kingdom of Morocco, Taiwan, USA, India, Kirsh Foundation, Business Eswatini, Eswatini National Provident Fund, UNDP, WHO, ILO and many others without whom the fight against the disease would have been much harder.
We still welcome partners who may wish to contribute to our COVID 19 Resource Mobilization drive as we anticipate a need for even more resources to recover the economy, cushion affected businesses and workers as well as support our health sector.
As a country we have done everything possible to protect loss of employment as a result of COVID 19 and issued guidelines on employment contingency measures which amongst other things provided for:
- Employment arrangements to mitigate against loss of earnings;
- Interim Measures for Workplace Governance which specifically address processes to lay off employees during the COVID 19 pandemic, control on retrenchments, variation of contracts of employment, wages councils negotiations and occupational safety and health for all workers and, in particular, health care workers.
As layoffs have been increasing in the past months, Government has established a Relief Fund for workers who have been laid off. Todate, 12000 workers are expected to benefit from the Fund. This is a short term relief and workers will benefit for a maximum of two months.
It has thus become urgent for the country to set up an Unemployment Insurance Scheme to cushion workers in times such as these. We wish to thank the ILO for the budget support to initiate the UIF in Eswatini. The Government of Eswatini will mobilize local resources to also contribute to this exercise.
The ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, 2019 is indeed appropriate for post COVID 19 world of work as it aptly packages how leaders of governments together with our social partners ( Workers and Employers) can rise up to the challenge and :
- Increase investment in people’s capabilities;
- Increase investment in the institutions of work; and
- Increase investment in decent and sustainable work.
In conclusion, may I reaffirm the Government of Eswatini’s commitment to the values and principles of the ILO.