MBABANE: Lizzie Nkosi, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare has been hiding critical information suggesting that the strike by employees working within the test laboratory had a negative impact on the outcomes and credibility of COVID-19 results.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News, suggests that on or around 14 May 2020, the Minister allegedly violated COVID-19 Regulations by providing questionable information, in that she failed to publicly disclose that the results were compromised as health workers were engaging in a ‘go slow’ and intending to strike over Personal Protective Clothing(PPEs).
As a result, no positive cases were announced on that particular day and the alleged lack of transparency by the government gave members of the public and the international community false hopes that the virus was under control in the Kingdom of eSwatini when in fact health workers were facing serious challenges regarding the lack of working equipment.
Reached for comments by this publication, the Minister denied that health workers engaged in a strike action but said this was a minor issue that was sorted within hours.
“Health workers are hard at work, they only engaged in a strike action for few hours and thereafter resumed their duties after their concerns were addressed. You can even verify this and then come back to me with questions” said the Minister.
But it later transpired that the Health Minister was not telling the truth as shortly after speaking to this publication last week, the strike action by the health workers entered its second day.
On or around 02 June 2020, Dr Vusi Magagula, the Director of Health Services was quoted by the Times of Eswatini addressing the workers where he declared the strike illegal.
“Protest actions are allowed in the country but proper channels need to be followed” he said.
When further questions were forwarded to the Health Minister, she failed to clarify the circumstances surrounding the questionable 14 May 2020 results.
But an independent investigation by this publication suggests that on or around 14 May 2020, in the midst of engagements between government and the nurses over the PPEs and the subsequent ‘go-slow’, the Minister failed to update the public regarding the challenges, instead she thanked the health workers for their commitment in fighting the pandemic as ‘no positive cases were recorded’ on that day.
Bheki Mamba, the President of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union(SWADNU) when asked to by this publication to specifically clarify if the challenges faced by health workers were not affecting the outcomes and credibility of the COVID-19 results, confirmed the matter. The nurses President said the whole government machinery functions through workers hence challenges faced by employees will always affect its operations.
“Government operates through employees and if the workers are not happy, the outcomes will always be affected. When this coronavirus pandemic started, government approached Parliament for the approval of a E100million budget and various companies responded with donations. When we calculate these donations from local companies alone, they are over E100million without mentioning funding from the US Embassy and other international partners. But what troubles us the most is that despite these donations, nothing tangible has been done by the government with that money” said the nurses President.
Speaking to this publication on the subject matter, Wandile Dludlu, the Secretary General of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) said, for the Minister to stand before the Nation and announce COVID-19 results, the machinery behind her being the employees should be functional.
“Once the machinery stopped functioning as we are facing such challenges now, then we might be at high risk of receiving false information from the government about COVID-19 and that’s the worst thing to come from this government. Once a government starts lying to its people in such critical situations, it’s not even under-performing but betrayal” said the PUDEMO Secretary General.
Reached for comments, Sibongile Mazibuko, the President of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) said it was too risky to trust a Cabinet that continue to lie in the midst of a life and death situation.
“Why should those who contributed millions of Emalangeni towards the fight of this pandemic be deceived to say there’s hope when there’s non at all? This is a way to justify the non-distribution of the millions which has not reached the people, I am disappointed” said the NNLC President.
Health Minister Lizzie Nkosi