Category: News

Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA to hold “Dialogue for Jobs”

Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA will, on the 10th and 11th May, hold a bipartite event dubbed “Dialogue on Jobs”. This is an event in which the Business Eswatini and the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), as apex bodies of employers and employees respectively, will engage on a broad range of economic and labour-related issues with a view of finding common solutions to mutual challenges.

The purpose of the dialogue is premised on the need to strengthen the partnership between business and workers at all levels especially in areas of mutual interest. Having taken note of the current difficult situation in the country especially when it comes to jobs as well as the glaring skills mismatch in the labour market, the bipartite have seen the pressing need for a dialogue on these important issues with the intention of arriving at a consensus on the said issues.

“Organized business in Eswatini through BE already have a well-established Bipartite Forum with TUCOSWA which dates back years and we meet as and when issues need to be discussed. This time BE has activated the agreement paving the way for the two partners to sit together in one room and explore options on creating a productive environment for the workforce through social dialogue. BE is one-minded with TUCOSWA in believing that open communication and information sharing, consultation, and negotiation are important factors in creating a harmonious labour space.

Our economy desperately needs jobs as unemployment is at its highest owing to the impact of the pandemic and social unrest. To address these matters expeditiously, BE is of the opinion that the conversation must begin at the shop floor level, between employers and workers.

Participation in the dialogue will be by invitation only. The event will be moderated by a highly reputable specialist with extensive experience in the field of labour law and social dialogue. That being said, Business Eswatini would like to thank the ILO for underwriting this event and for the support they are providing in terms of resources. This organization has been a reliable partner to BE and we are most grateful indeed.

On another note, we would like to thank our members who have come out to show resounding support for the dialogue. Not only did they support us privately, but they were willing to even do it on various public mediums.

Some of them include:

Dr. Sipho Nkambule (CEO) – Eswatini Cane Growers Association

We would like to thank Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA for collaborating in this groundbreaking manner. In the work environment, there will always be issues that crop up from time to time which need to be addressed. We are very happy to see organizations which are at the helm of wealth creation working together to find solutions in the labour space and to lay a firm foundation for the future of the business sector.

The agriculture sector, like most industries, is compelled to adopt technology at a fast pace which calls for us to proactively formulate forward-looking plans and strategies to keep pace with these changes and their consequences. Most of these changes dictate that we need to adapt in order to stay relevant and competitive. Technologies are being improved everyday forcing us to address the issue of skills development and upgrade. We are happy that there will also be discussions on how to reskill, upskill and multi-skill our employees. It is our sincerely held principle that development should always strive to strike the delicate balance between wealth creation and sustainable livelihoods for the people of Eswatini in an inclusive manner. We trust that the outcomes of this dialogue will help to improve productivity and ultimately fast-track the economic recovery and development.

Kudos to both Business Eswatini and TUCOSWA for this event and wish them very well as they try to look for solutions of the present and the future.”

Ms. Daphne Mhlanga (Plant Manager) – Afrisam Eswatini

As AfriSam we would like to express our appreciation to Business Eswatini (BE) and TUCOSWA for the engagement. As members of BE we fully support the BE’s objectives of job preservation, enhancement and creation. We are aware of the desperate situation caused by unemployment and AfriSam has been committed to making a meaningful impact and positively contributing towards the growth and development of Eswatini and its citizens.

We have a broad range of social responsibility programs geared towards providing concrete solutions in the communities in which we do business. Our programs span from education and health to youth development. However, these programs can only go so far to uplift the communities in which we operate. We are thus looking forward to the dialogue and trust that it will have a positive effect.

We are hopeful that some forward-looking solutions will be found and that our employer-employee relations will grow from strength to strength.”

Ms. Zinhle Matsebula (MD) – Lifespan Diagnostics  

The bipartite dialogue initiative has come at the right time where there is a glaring need to address the havoc left by the most recent developments in the country which caused economic stagnation and a high incidence of unemployment. As a company whose passion is to reverse the rife unemployment rates especially among the youth, we are very grateful to BE for the engagement between employers and employees and we have our fingers crossed that it will yield some great outcomes.

As a business sector we are not coping with the rate at which unemployment is growing, hence the need to look at collective solutions to arrest this alarming problem. The job summit will benefit both employers and employees as it will provide a level ground for both parties to unlock the economic dilemmas we need to deal with collectively and harmoniously.

From this dialogue, I also hope the engagements will promote mutual respect among both stakeholders concerned and limit the number of disputes in the workplace.

Our hopes are very high and we are excited about an initiative of this nature.”

Stay tuned for more details in the coming days.

Business Eswatini Hold Successful AGM

Business Eswatini hosted an extraordinary annual general meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn on Wednesday. Members of this apex private sector representative body were updated on critical issues impacting the business environment in the country.

Critical decisions on the mandate of the Organisation were thrashed out as well as the added responsibilities which members had to pursue. The event was well-attended and delegates went out waxing lyrical about the organization’s achievements in the past two years.

The President of Business Eswatini, Mr. Andrew Le Roux, led the proceedings supported by his vice presidential incumbents in Fikile Nkosi (Nedbank), Bheki Maziya (RES) and Mvuselelo Fakudze (Std Bank) who are responsible for the Trade and Commerce, Industrial Relations and Social Policy and Finance portfolios respectively. The CEO, E. Nathi Dlamini facilitated the programme alongside the president.

In his opening remarks, the president highlighted the importance of unity especially at a time when the country was divided. He further encouraged members to be active participants in the country’s policy direction and to weigh in on matters of economic development. He lamented the fact that the business community had not been able to meet as frequently as they had wanted and heaped most of the blame squarely on the effects of the pandemic and the unpalatable restrictions it attracted. He said that as a result some compliance lapses arose. He, however, stressed that Business Eswatini should always be a standard bearer for corporate governance. He articulated some of the gaps which creeped in as a result of the pandemic amongst which included the failure to convene regular meetings as per the organization’s constitution. The president further decried the fact that Business Eswatini’s priorities had to be frequently shuffled from time to time in order to concentrate on the issues that were deemed to be urgent, especially the response to the pandemic and pressing legislative issues.    

The members were updated on new developments which the president said would shape the future landscape of business. Some of the hot topics covered included the need to ensure a conducive tax environment, support for labor-intensive industries such as the textile industry and cross-border topical issues including harmonization of border processes and transport and logistics issues of licensing and violence.

On Industrial Relations, new developments were primarily on the setting up of a coherent and sustainable social security fund, the employment legislation issues and training and localization matters which remained unresolved to date.

The members endorsed the secretariat’s decisions on a wide array of matters and further expressed satisfaction with the organization’s progress of advancing the private sector’s interests.

Another important issue that was deliberated on included the board’s term of office where the members had to debate on whether or not to go for another process of elections or extend the current board’s term. To this end, the membership endorsed a proposal to have the current board continue to serve because if they were to step down, the organization would be left without a board until the next election cycle which is a situation that they said would be untenable especially against the obtaining backdrop of an extremely volatile trading landscape. The view was that the board had done well in managing market challenges and navigating a complex environment in the country on behalf of members.

 They expressed confidence on the leadership of the president and his team and went further to applaud their collective work ethic and their ability to uphold common values and consensus. Their institutional memory and acquaintance with the topical issues of the day was counted as a much needed strength. E. Nathi Dlamini BE’s CEO took time to happily congratulate the new team. He said; “On behalf of the management team and staff of Business Eswatini, I would like to congratulate the board of directors and to thank them for agreeing to continue in their current roles. We are well aware that most of them, including the president, had wanted to take a break, but on the secretariat’s behest, they agreed to carry on nonetheless.”

Reaction by Business Eswatini To the 2022-23 Budget, presented by Minister of Finance on the 18th February 2022

Reaction by Business Eswatini

To the 2022-23 Budget,

presented by Minister of Finance on the 18th February 2022

Business Eswatini hereby acknowledges what seems like a pro-poor national budget tabled by the Minister of Finance.

Given our long history of social and economic inequalities, it is therefore encouraging to get the sense that the Minister’s budget speech seems to be aimed at making every attempt to address prevailing socio-economic issues of unemployment and income inequalities inherent in our society. Some have even said that the minister has put soul into what is generally a capitalistic society. Equally, given what this country has been through especially in the past two years, a little ‘soul’ may be what the doctor ordered. We therefore applaud the minister’s efforts in this regard.

In his wide and varied budget speed, the Minister of Finance highlighted a number of positive initiatives aimed at reviving the economy, in particular uplifting the poor in the country, who have been left worse off and worse for wear especially by recent unfortunate events, notably in the past half year. The minister’s policy direction is clearly articulated and aimed at reducing unemployment coupled with an attempt at bridging the income inequality gap. While this will demand a huge investment into training and development of our labour force, the outcome and success of the policy itself may not be guaranteed as there are many pitfalls to be managed along the way.

However, it is BE’s opinion that these are first ‘baby steps’ in the right direction by the finance minister. Our social milieu and economic distribution are, and have been, highly skewed to the exclusion of others and as such, credible efforts were urgently needed to rebalance the scales so that every Liswati has a stake in the economy.

Taxation

As a business community, we welcome the reduction of corporate tax from 27.5% to 25%, negligible as it may seem. Every little bit helps. It is indeed welcomed news for all businesses and comes at a time when it is needed the most. Companies have suffered the most as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the reduction in corporate tax may provide room for companies to breathe and at the same time encourage direct investment and business expansion. We would like to commend Government’s efforts in implementing such policy instruments that respond to the times and environment which we find ourselves in. This is something our government has not been well-known for in the past – and this is meant as a genuine compliment rather than a snide remark. It is also commendable that for the first time in a long time, the Government of Eswatini delivered a speech that is independent of South Africa and one which is responsive to our very own socio-economic situation as a country.

Not to detract from the foregoing, it must be noted, however, that many companies in the country are swimming in red ink especially in the past two years, which means they are in deep debt and are in a loss-making position. As such, they would not have been paying corporate tax anyway, and by extension, this means this tax break may well be a moot benefit to them. Nonetheless, we still positively welcome this development.

Rich to subsidize the poor

Although any increment in tax is unpleasant, the 3% increment from 33% to 36% of PAYE for higher income earners who earn above E300,000 aimed at bridging the income inequality gap is a rational but painful policy that we hope will actually benefit the poor in our society. Lifting the tax bracket where individuals start paying tax from E4,000 instead of E3,500 will go a long way towards enhancing disposable incomes desperately needed by the poor. We would propose government to have the increases staggered, beginning with 34% in the first year and ending with 36% on the third year. A huge 3% jump all at once will be rebuffed by tax-weary taxpayers. 

Expenditure

BE would like to caution government yet again to cut her coat according to her cloth this time around.

That being said, we recognize government’s efforts in allocating taxpayers’ hard earned money toward viable projects. Implementation of recommendations such as the reduction of the number of public enterprises and the continued management of the wage bill, while on the other hand allocating funds to ICT, infrastructural development, health and education is a good policy direction. These projects will enable an efficient business environment and increase competitiveness of our industries even in regional and international markets. The minister must spend thriftily and wisely here even on necessary projects. We also caution against unsubstantiated price hikes for big projects which end up inflating our budget deficit because of cost-overruns. BE hope this will not happen again as the tax payer ends up footing unjustifiable bills from unscrupulous service providers.   

Social Security

we agree that social security as a whole should be a priority for any country including the UBF among others. Our main issue is the way we are dealing with these as a country and how it will be governed. We wish for a holistic discussion on social security as was envisaged in the Draft National Social Security Policy as well as proper consultation of stakeholders.

A detailed analysis of this minister of finance will be issued next week. For now, our first impressions are that the honourable minister may be on the right track.

Business Eswatini

Aggregated Opinions and Reactions of the Private Sector to the His Majest KMIII’s 2022 speech.

It was a unanimous vote from private sector respondents that His Majesty’s speech was delivered with impeccable eloquence and gusto and as such, Business Eswatini would like to applaud His Majesty for a job well done. Furthermore, the king was commended for his openness and sincerity by those interviewed particularly for raising some of the pressing issues which the country confronts, both socially and politically. In this regard, the business sector happily noted his renewed commitment to ensuring peace in the land and affirming the long-held tradition of settling matters through consultation and dialogue.

Agriculture

His Majesty stressed the need for water harvesting which is an issue that he has been promoting for many years now. Given the instability and unpredictability of our rain falls owing to the climate change crisis, it is important that we exploit new water harvesting and storage technologies which are now readily available in the market. As a private sector we hope the minister of finance will allocate some support towards the construction of dams in key strategic geographical areas of the country as part of a larger effort towards food security. Agriculture is a backbone sector in our GDP and it would be to our advantage to invest more in it.

Energy independence

Business Eswatini would like to thank His Majesty for broaching the pressing matter of energy independence, and indeed energy sustainability. If there was ever one sovereign risk confronting the country, it has to be that of energy given that we disproportionately depend on one single supplier, which supplier is also in a huge financial mess.  The prospects of power supply disruptions to Eswatini post-2025 are looming large unless the country becomes self-reliant. Also, it has to be noted that, given the shift in our geopolitical landscape, especially in recent months, it would be strategically disingenuous for the country to solely depend on one supplier.

Not to detract the foregoing, it has to be said that the country has made serious commitments to COP26 to drastically reduce its carbon footprint and in this regard, we have committed ourselves to ambitious targets and time lines. As such, we need to be seen by the international community to be good for our word when it comes to climate-change issues. On energy infrastructure, this necessitates that we exploit the full range of green technologies now available in the market – most of which are not only sustainable but also price-competitive. Before we embark on any energy project we need to agree as a country on a formal energy-mix policy and how this ‘mix’ will, combined, ensure that at the end of the day, we achieve the climate targets we have set for ourselves. The private sector is ready and willing to enter the energy space as they already have the green technologies and the funding needed to implement any large scale power generation initiative. We can no longer afford to be oblivious of the deleterious effects of climate change and we all need to take matters into our own hands. The destruction of our roads and the impact on our crops bear testimony to havoc climate issues can cause to our lives and livelihoods.

ICT and Economic Development

That His Majesty singled out ICT goes to show the importance of the role ICT plays in commerce and trade, but also, in education and health. Whilst we had expected the arrival of the 4IR to be at least a few years away, Covid conspired against us to fast-track its unexpected arrival and found the whole country woefully ill-prepared. Lockdowns and in recent times, the social unrest, served to expose the inadequacy of our ICT infrastructure, both in terms of accessibility and robustness but also on the pricing thereof. It is for this reason that we hereby request government to be courageous in making the necessary decisions of deregulating the industry so as to unlock any inherent value concealed within the anticompetitive regulations which for years have deprived the market of fair competition and value-for-money ICT services.

The cost of data is punitively expensive for everyone and has been for years. As such, this needs to be addressed as a matter of priority, and that has to be done over and above the pressing need to equitably provide access even for rural folk and small businesses especially.

It bears repeating, commercial transactions are now almost exclusively performed online and given the huge cost of our ICT services means that many companies’ profitability is compromised. This is one of many justifications for the country to intentionally invest in this sector and also encourage other players to invest in the sector.

Fiscal discipline

This country has been dogged by poor spending for many years which is why we have found ourselves dealing with a budget deficit which now appears to be perennial. We have always fallen short in terms of cutting our coat to fit our cloth. Reckless spending, or spending on projects whose social and commercial value cannot be readily verifiable, should be something that we avoid. It is on this aspect that we hereby call on the honorable Minister of Finance to stand his ground when necessary and refuse to be railroaded into allocating funding for projects whose justification is vanity, of which there are many. We advocate for prudent spending by the minister to ensure that there is no need to raise taxes.  Tax payers are already taxed to the bone and are too tax-weary to carry another burden of tax. We also hope that the fiscal consolidation will carry on in 2022 and ensure that government finally pays off in full her outstanding debts with the private sector. While advocating for fiscal discipline we are not unmindful of the national need to start to meaningfully address matters of social protection which will, justifiably, need government spending.

“Whats love got to do with it?”

‘ONE DAY-ONE HOUR A WEEK’ DRIVE FOR CLEANER ESWATINI

Business Eswatini CEO E. Nathi Dlamini said companies should consider dedicating at least an hour on Friday of each week to cleaning up and protecting the environment.

He made these remarks in a clean-up event help in Mbabane Corporation by Mqolo Primary School. At the same clean-up event, Mqolo Primary School pupils and the elderly from the community were gifted with love packs in recognition of Valentines. Dlamini stated that after the clean-up which was showing love for the environment in solidarity with the community, Business Eswatini was very happy to show love for the people of the area. 

The event featured the prominent figures from the business sector including

  1. NedBank – Fikile Nkosi,
  2. FNB – (to send rep) – Sikelela Tsela,
  3. EPTC – Vusi Magagula
  4. Far East – Tokky Hou,
  5. Eswatini Railways – Nixon Dlamini,
  6. SWADE – Samson Sithole,
  7. Swaziland Beverages – Mpumelelo Makhubu,
  8. Mountain Inn – Marc Ward  
  9. Titan Logistics and Vice-chair of Chinese Association – Jeff Hou
  10. Talanta.co Management Consultants – Dumi Jere
  11. Chairperson – Chinese association – Tom Hou

He encouraged all companies in Eswatini to dedicate at least 50 hours a year or a minimum of one hour a week for voluntary cleanliness work and environmental stewardship.

“This would spark a paradigm shift and a change of attitude among communities regarding waste and littering, whilst encouraging citizens to embrace a cleanliness culture through awareness, ownership, and action. Such an exercise would also provide captains of business with the opportunity to lead by example and make a positive change in the community,” Dlamini said.

“By embracing such small, yet significant steps the private sector will be contributing to a multi-level improvement in Eswatini’s general health and wellness. As Business Eswatini we will contribute to changing the deep-rooted habits around littering and cleanliness practices.”

Dlamini encouraged businesses to commit to, and deliver on actions to protect the environment through innovation in the production pipeline, product design,  packaging, and distribution, measuring and reporting activities to reduce single-use plastic litter and microplastics; and working with partners to raise the profile of this issue with their clients and customers.

Dlamini was addressing captains of business, volunteers, and residents, after leading a Valentines Day clean-up campaign organised by Yibutse Green !ction, an environmental organisation, at Corporation area, in the sprawling Msunduza township in Mbabane. The event was the second leg of Yibutse clean-up campaigns sponsored by Business Eswatini and her members including Montigny Investments, Premier Eswatini and Talanta.co Management Consultants.

More than 80 refuse bags of litter, comprising mainly of empty bottles of alcoholic beverages, single-use plastic garbage, COVID-19 waste such as facemasks, gloves, and paper were removed from the streets and deposited, at the Municipal Council of Mbabane’s waste disposal facilities. These will be recycled.

Business Eswatini Vice-president for Trade and Commerce, Fikile Nkosi who made remarks on behalf of the employer federation said that climate change is one of the most important and emerging issues that Business Eswatini is focussing on. She pointed out that Eswatini is party to the Paris agreement in which we made a commitment to remarkably reduce our carbon footprint. She also recognised Yibutse Green Action for the initiatives they have started in line with BE.

“As Business Eswatini we thank Yibutse Green action for its leadership role and consistency in its mission to achieve a cleaner, safer, and more prosperous Eswatini. We will continue to support Yibutse as it involves volunteers, residents, and other stakeholders in its green activities and clean-up campaigns across the country. This was long overdue as it inculcates a civic sense among communities,” said Nkosi.

She noted that achieving a clean Eswatini was not an overnight thing, but emphasised the importance of starting and maintaining momentum in what can be done now towards solving the garbage crisis.

Musa Ndlangamandla, the Founder and Executive Director of Yibutse Green !ction said the private sector was a critical player in the war against indiscriminate littering. He added that Business Eswatini, and the entire private sector, were intrinsically linked to the success of ongoing efforts to clean up Eswatini, particularly in ridding the country of the menace of single-use plastic waste.

“Yibutse’s pillar goal is to bring together different sectors of the community to act as one, in being good stewards of the environment and achieve a cleaner Eswatini,” Ndlangamandla said.

“It is encouraging to see the deliberate positive actions taken by Business Eswatini and its members in being part of the solution to the littering pandemic and environmental degradation that Eswatini faces.”

“More and more businesses see the value of responsive corporate citizenship and the role they must play as an enabling stakeholder in environmental stewardship which should be vigorously encouraged and even incentivised by government.”

He added: “Yibutse knows that government cannot fight and win this battle against indiscriminate littering alone. That is why we encourage shared responsibilities and a multi-stakeholder setting in caring for the environment through proper waste management efforts.”

Ndlangamandla said whilst building the best waste management systems takes resources, right planning, and execution, the biggest challenge is addressing public apathy, the lack of motivation and discipline to individually participate in reducing and properly disposing of waste.

“Yibutse, with support from our sponsors and donors, is working to close that gap. We must continue to work together for a cleaner, safer and prosperous Eswatini,” Ndlangamandla said.

“We want to ensure that private enterprises, public entities, municipalities, civil society and communities support government programmes and are fully engaged and included.”

Tiyamike Maziya, a leading local artist and businessman thanked Yibutse for its green activities and providing an opportunity for communities to clean up their surroundings.

“We are encouraged by the efforts to replicate such activities across the country. Working together we can restore the beauty, health, and prosperity of our communities,” Maziya said.

A Brand new year 2022

2nd January 2022

Welcome to 2022 which is a brand new year, fresh from the box. It comes with no warrantees or guarantees because it is perfect the way it is; neither does it come with an owner’s manual because none is needed as we ought to know better already. What we need to accept is that it is a perfect year in every respect, only to be made more beautiful, or horrendous – God forbid – by the things we decide to do from here onwards. This means that how everything eventually pans out and whatever happens along the way will not be because of the year per se but the actors in it.

2021 has certainly been a tough year for all of us, due in part to what others decided to do to us and, perhaps to a large degree, to what we decided to do to ourselves. For starters, through no fault of our own we have been on the receiving end of many crises especially given the stubborn pandemic prowling in our midst.  The social skirmishes that unraveled in the second half of the year drove the last nail even deeper into the proverbial coffin.  The endless restrictions that ensued on both businesses and individuals only served to make life even more agonizing. It is with this in mind that we are happy to let 2021 disappear into oblivion as we eagerly await to start afresh in 2022.  

Victory

Business Eswatini, as the apex advocacy body for the business community in Eswatini, is desirous to see our people make the choice to start the new year with renewed vigor and resolve in our collective endeavour to especially pivot the trajectory of our ailing economy and realign our political spectrum. What we decide to do as a country will and can determine whether we have a glowing report by the end of 2022, or we end up strutting off the stage in shame as a failed state. The choice is ours to make and it’s a no brainer.  But knowing the ingenuity and fortitude of EmaSwati it wouldn’t be presumptuous of one to think that EmaSwati will choose victory over our circumstances. They will choose humility over our personal interests and the boundless egos that feed them, because the situation we are facing right now demands that sort of servant leadership. Ours is a watershed moment in which brinkmanship has no place anymore.

Wisdom

We remain hopeful nonetheless that our commitment will see us turn the tide as a nation, as many institutions are on knife’s edge as we speak. Investor confidence has been shattered to smithereens and it’s anybody’s wild guess when it will ever be restored. Meanwhile, joblessness is skyrocketing faster than new jobs can be created at a time when our unemployed youth are woefully disillusioned. We have an untenable situation in our hands which will demand uncommon wisdom and foresight. It is therefore unsurprising that Business Eswatini has now been given the mandate by the business community to be amenable to any proposed national meetings in which the future direction of our country’s economy will be discussed.  

Politics

The business environment does not operate in a vacuum or outside the political environment which conceptualizes the policies and laws that determine the rhythm of the nation’s economy. This means the business community can ignore the obtaining political ramifications to its own peril as patently demonstrated by recent events. It is a function of politics, duly embodied in our government, to ensure that the country has a conducive environment in which to thrive and create the jobs demanded by the people. The global index on the ease of doing business in this country has been damning, and for successive years too, for reasons which are not too hard to find. Some of our economic policies seem to thrive on political expediency and short-termism as opposed to creating a stable and durable environment that will create confidence for both local and export-oriented foreign direct investors.  

It cannot be left unsaid that the revenues to sustain the country are steadily dwindling while the needs of the citizenry are ever increasing. We therefore urgently need investors – big and genuine investors – in order for the country to create the national wealth desperately needed to fund our fiscus. EIPA has their work cut out for them and we can only commiserate with them because it is not too easy to sell a location that has too many question marks attached to it. 

It bears repeating, however, that without an enabling policy framework and a predictable political environment, it will be nearly impossible to attract and retain foreign direct investment projects in the country.

Spending

Until we get that right, we need to spend the national purse wisely and cautiously in the meantime, by cutting our coat according to our cloth. Plausible attempts to do this are already underway but the country needs to do more, and do so expeditiously. Gone should be the days of unwarranted spending because the level of accountability demanded by every tax payer will intensify in 2022. The demand for service delivery on the one hand and accountability on the other means the country will have no choice but to run a tight ship going forward. And this will be doable with the cooperation of all people concerned. One can only pray that the need to go into hard and painful structural adjustments can be circumvented, at least for now.  

We have on many occasions decried the habit of investing in national projects whose rate of return is vague and hope this will no longer be the case in 2022. We cannot afford to invest in more fancy hotels when there are no tourists in sight.

Climate Change

The issue of climate cannot be ignored any longer. It’s a pressing matter. We need to reduce our carbon footprint like yesterday.

Recently, we have made the call to the business sector to start looking at adapting their production facilities to be environmentally friendly. Climate change is real and if we continue to ignore its deleterious effects on our daily lives and livelihoods, we will pay dearly in future. Reducing our carbon emissions will help prevent climate disasters which would otherwise negatively affect businesses.

 Being climate-conscious has become an integral part of doing business across the globe as consumers and clients begin to lean towards businesses that care about the environment.  It should therefore not necessarily be perceived as restrictive agenda, but one that brings with it many business opportunities.

Renewable power generation will be an area we will have to pursue vigorously this year in our quest for green energy in the country.  With the power deficit we have locally, there is a plethora of opportunities we can exploit in consultation and partnership with the local incumbents. Wholesale reliance on imports has its own strategic weaknesses especially in ever-changing geopolitical landscape in SADC.

As we turn the page to a new year, we are also inviting other stakeholders to put their best foot forward so we can collectively restore our economy and begin to grow it without leaving anyone behind.

2022. Here we come.

Business Eswatini unveiled another cottage

Today (14 November 2021) Business Eswatini unveiled a cottage factory funded by United Nations from which the People Living with Disabilities at Lobamba Inkhundla will carry out their textile-based business. They have just been onboarded by Business Women Eswatini onto the Vukani Bomake Project and have already started supplying Lorjaf Pick’n’Pay with reusable fabric shopper bags.

In a jovial event, Vukani BoMake together with People Living with Disabilities, showered BWE and BE with early Christmas presents. What a spectacular event to witness the unempowered empowering the empowered. We take our hats off to UN Eswatini , Pick n Pay, Sportz House, Far East Textiles and Vukani BoMake Project.

#TheHomeofBusiness#BusinessWomenEswatini#VukaniBoMakeProject

We Need your Mandate to get Involved

Our core mandate

You will no doubt be aware that in the past two years our mandate of advocacy has evolved organically in our quest to respond appropriately to the emerging challenges and socio-economic developments in the country. This evolution has not changed our core values as an organization but only ensured that we remain ideally poised to provide the needed services to the private sector as enshrined in our core mandate. As such, we have been able to achieve relevance even in the changing fortunes of time for which we are most grateful to you for your tireless support.

Changes in the business environment….

I’m sure you will also agree that the wider environment in which the private sector operates is fast-changing and it is our considered opinion that it would be unwise to assume that our operations will be impervious to these changes. This being the case, therefore, we feel it would be devoid of wisdom and good judgment on our part to ignore these developments especially at this time. We say this without equivocation because the private sector, being represented by BE; as well as our workers as represented by their various labour unions, are critical stakeholders in the socio-economical dimension of this country. It goes without saying that without the business formations and the workers who tirelessly ply their labour and craft in these businesses, the economy can only grind to a halt.

It bears reiteration, however, that underpinning our organization’s core mandate is economic development and job-creation in our desperate bid to deliver the opportunities desperately needed by the country’s workforce, especially our vibrant youth whose unemployment bracket demonstrates an alarming figure.

Stating this in blatant language as we hereby do is not meant to diminish, or even relegate, the critical importance of your organization’s duty to meet your own shareholders’ expectations of a fair return on investment.  Much to the contrary though, it is simply meant to vitalize the view that our responsibility as a private sector extends beyond the boundaries of our business compounds.

Cottage industries for economically disenfranchised villages

In recent months we have embarked on planting cottage factories around the country in order to empower especially women and the youth under our business expansion program.

Vukani Bomake projects has been the vehicle exploited for our business model of expansion. We continue to pursue these programs so that no one in the country, especially in remote villages, is economically ostracized as to be left without a stake in the larger national economy.

In tandem with the business-planting programs for disenfranchised Emaswati we are also dabbling in poverty alleviation programs as we have begun distributing food parcels to desperate communities around the country on behalf of the private sector. The cost of doing this has been extremely prohibitive just like our vaccination exercise. However, we remain resolute and undeterred. These are very difficult economic times for many families and communities around the country and it would be immoral of us to decide to look the other way at this time.

Peace and stability key to economic transformation

Furthermore, and over and above the aforementioned, it has to be mentioned that the principles of peace and stability; the rule of law; independence of organs of state; accountability and transparency, as well as equity and benevolence, have always been, and continue to be, the ideals for which we stand as Business Eswatini. For better or worse, we have dutifully abided by these ideals for decades and have exemplified them in every assignment we have pursued together. A recent example is the major investment the membership of BE made at the dawn of this pandemic and the millions of Emalangeni we are now spending as a partner in the rollout of the national vaccination initiative. It is this sort of compassion that best describes who we are and what we stand for as Business Eswatini.

Request for an expanded mandate by BE Secretariat

It is against this backdrop that the secretariat, duly authorized to approach you today, seeks your mandate to get involved in the national conversation that is about to be convened in the country. As a critical stakeholder we feel that we cannot afford not to get involved in a national dialogue. Alternatively, as captioned above, we seek to hold your watching brief at the very least. Arguably, our request is premised on the view that this national conversation and its outcomes will have ramifications for the private sector’s economic agenda as well as our programs of empowering urban and rural communities in need.

Please indicate your approval through our normal channels of engagement.

We thank you in advance for your commitment and support

Business Eswatini Management   

Business Eswatini Engagements with ESERA on Licencing of Petroleum

Following your concerns raised on the License Fees which were recently introduced by the energy regulator (ESERA) we would like to report back to you on the multiple engagements we have held. Notably, we raised the escalating cost of doing business and the negative impacts of regulation which at most times seem to be arbitrary and serve to disrupt normal business operations among a myriad of other issues. We are happy to note that most of the concerns were heard by the regulator such as to make specific positive consideration in this regard.

In one positive outcome of the engagements, commercial petroleum clients who wish to source directly from the wholesaler were granted a dispensation to pay a single license fees which covers multiple branches under them (ONE application fee for various sites). Members are required to attach a list of all sites they have on their application to qualify for this.

Another positive outcome was that commercial petroleum customers who do not consume big quantities but are still within this regulatory domain may apply for annual permits which are clustered according to usage rate. A schedule of these quantities and applicable levies is available below (PDF Document).

We are aware of the disruption any new system brings to your operations especially that which requires further injection of financial resources at a time when the economy can ill-afford anymore burden. We still hold the view and advocate for the position that all artificial barriers should be removed and instead we need the support to restore and uphold vibrancy of the business sector and by extension, the whole economy. The regulator has welcomed an invitation to further engagements on the subject in order to ensure that the common objective is met: a vibrant industry enabling the safe and harmonious consumption of petroleum products. For your reactions to this update please kindly send them through to Thandeka Dlamini @ thandekad@business-eswatini.co.sz .

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Breaking New Ground in Devolving the Economy

Through the membership of Business Eswatini (BE), and under the tutelage of Business Women Eswatini (BWE), we’ve broken new ground in devolving the economy to every nook and cranny of every neglected village in the kingdom of Eswatini.  Never in our wildest dreams have we ever thought the private sector would be the embodiment of hope to the hopeless; and the help needed to the helpless.  We therefore stand in awe as we marvel at, and witness with our very own eyes, the women and youth previously ostracised and economically disenfranchised being empowered; and their lives transformed right before our very own eyes.

Some have said Business Eswatini through BWE is doing the work of God in desperate times when God can only appear to the masses in the form of bread. But for Business Eswatini members, they believe it’s good business to ensure that no one is left behind.  And what a privilege and honour for US (BE), personally, to be part of this story which is being written for all to enjoy. To Business Eswatini members, we say THANK YOU on behalf of our youth and the women of this country. This is only the beginning of the storyline with more chapters yet to be written. Together, we are changing the complexion of our economic landscape.

#BusinessEwatini #BusinessWomenEswatini #VukaniBoMake #VukaniYouth