Sunday 2024-07-21




By Zwelihle Sukati | 2020-03-07

Safa! Emaswati are in for a shock as President of the Swaziland Nurses Association Bheki Mamba has advised health workers not to dare attend to a single case of the deadly coronavirus, COVID-19.

This he said was because government had been doing things at a snail’s pace in preparing for the virus outbreak, something he said posed a great danger to the lives of health workers.

Mamba was speaking during an interview with this publication on Thursday.

With that said, Emaswati have every reason to be afraid after waking up to newspaper headlines that the dreaded coronavirus has hit South Africa, the neighbouring state on Thursday, confirming its first case of the deadly virus.

Mamba said he was worried that government had not, at such a critical stage, identified quarantine centres, no strategy in place in the event of the virus outbreaks, as well as the fact that nothing much had been done to train health workers on how to deal with the virus.

Mamba said it was worrying that government had not put a strategy in place in the event the coronavirus struck.

However, government views things differently, with Director of Health Services Dr. Vusi Magagula saying Mamba, was aware which forums to exploit when expressing such views as opposed to taking things up with the media.

“As is, in terms of the country’s preparedness, we will not allow any health worker to attend even to a single case of the coronavirus,” Mamba, the nurses association’s president declared.

“We will not condone a situation whereby the lives of our colleagues (health workers) are put at risk and we would like to urge nurses to put their lives first and not expose themselves to the virus without having been properly trained or skilled on how to deal with the situation.”

He said the virus was spreading so fast and very near to the country as it was already threatening the Southern Africa region. “We relate more to South Africa as the closest biggest economy in the region and the biggest tourist destination, by number, coming even from China,” he pointed out.

He said Eswatini was also a big trader with the neighbouring state and with all these pointers “we need to have been very much prepared like yesterday”.

However, Mamba said Eswatini was lagging behind in terms of preparedness and was far from declaring this as a health emergency situation.

“We haven’t even heard from the prime minister proclaiming how his government plans to deal with the coronavirus, which also has negative effects on the economy.”  He noted that at this stage, the prime minister should be leading his team, together with the minister of health, in assuring the nation of what to expect in terms of countering the virus that is fast closing into the region.

“Instead, government is relying on technicians, yet the situation needs political weight for support even from parliament in terms of mobilising resources.”

The nurses association’s president said it was also a great deal of concern that no budget had been allocated in line with a strategy to deal with the virus, at least until now. He also highlighted that the country’s health facilities were hard hit with dire shortage of medical supplies and this made citizens more vulnerable to this global dilemma.

In as much as the health ministry has urged the nation not to panic, Emaswati have every reason to be afraid with that said, coming from a health workers organisation.


“Without a proper strategy, adequate training of health workers, sound budget allocation and identified quarantine centres, we will not allow our members to expose themselves to the virus. They must put their lives first,” Mamba reiterated.

That said, however, yesterday’s news reports announced that the minister of health, Lizzie Nkosi, told Parliament that a whooping E100 million was needed by her ministry to fight the deadly coronavirus.  Nkosi said part of the money would be used to increase the number of health workers and equipment to effect their prevention and readiness plans. The minister said they wanted to add about 55 more health workers, in particular the nurses, as well as also purchase about five mounted scanners, which cost about E485 000 each.

Coronavirus man-made –Witchdoctors

Makhanya Makhanya said those who would come for traditional healing would get to learn from spiritual consultation on how the virus came about and what animal was used in the its creation, the ‘witch’ that caused the global scourge and what was needed to cure and prevent its spread.

“Since this is a communicable disease, it will not be hard for us to deal with it.”

He said witchdoctors always had meetings to discuss on even bigger issues like the COVID-19, which would soon affect the whole world.

Makhanya again pointed out that witchcraft was practised all over the world, and it was likely that such pandemics were a result of black magic. 


“Therefore, people should go and consult witchdoctors for the truth, cure and immunisation. All animals and plants were given to mankind by God and some people misuse certain species for witchcraft purposes,” he said.

“However, when consulting the spirits, we are able to ascertain what animal bone was used in the witchcraft, even if it was sourced undersea, and the spirits will tell us what needs to be done to counter it.”

Witchdoctors say they can prevent coronavirus infection

Makhanya Makhanya, the founder of the witchdoctors association, says they use unique herbs to smoke the air clear of disease (kubhunyisa) as well as blood infused traditional vaccines (kugata) as a vaccine, even against the much globally feared coronavirus.

This he said when responding to questions on how safe they would be from contracting the virus in the event they had to deal with a patient who had contracted COVID-19.

“As much as western medical doctors  use masks and other modern scientific medication to prevent themselves from contracting communicable diseases, likewise even traditional doctors have their own method,” Makhanya Makhanya declared.

Witchdoctor or Medical Doctor, it’s your call

People believe whatever. This was the reaction of Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula when reached for comment on the views and declaration by the witchdoctors association’s Makhanya Makhanya on the coronavirus COVID-19.

“They have their own ways and style when it comes to treatment and these I have no knowledge about.

However, as long as they do not contradict or disagree on what we are saying as medical practitioners and the World Health Organisation, we are fine,” Dr Magagula said. Dr Magagula emphasised on issues of hygiene and other preventative measures. “It is then up to a person to decide when ill whether she goes to consult a witchdoctor or medical practitioner.”

 He said they respected traditional healers as experts in their own  field. Likewise, witchdoctor Makhanya Makhanya said they respected medical practitioners as experts in their western scientific medical field. 

This is not a time to be apart

“This is not a time to be apart but a time to unite against a common potential enemy.”

Sabelo Dlamini, briefly speaking on behalf of the prime minister’s office said government has shown commitment, even with the E100 million Supplementary Appropriation bill No.2 of 2020 tabled before Parliament by the acting Minister of Finance, Moses Vilakati on Thursday.

Government tabled the said bill for additional requirements for services of government towards the health ministry.

“Now is not the time to tear each other apart but to stand a united force against a threatening common enemy. We have to protect each other from the threat of this virus,” Dlamini said, before referring further comment to the ministry of health.

Health ministry keeps fingers crossed

Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula says the ministry is hoping that parliament passes the E100 million supplementary appropriation bill. He said this would go a long in moving things even faster.

However, when reacting to comments by the president of the nurses association, Bheki Mamba, Dr. Magagula said Mamba was well aware of which channels to exploit when it came to raising such.

“Mamba is in management. He is Sister Nurse and in a position of leadership. Therefore, I cannot comment on this in the media when there are clear channels he knows very well to explore if he has concerns.”  

We are ready, on guard for coronavirus – Witchdoctors

Witchdoctors say as traditional medical practitioners and spiritual assessors, they are more than ready to deal with the deadly coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Makhanya Makhaya of the Witchdoctors Association says their spiritual prowess and expertise in traditional medicine is geared up to deal with the virus.

“There is something we have to give cure to and we are ready,” Makhanya said in an interview with the Saturday Observer yesterday.  He described witchdoctors as warriors on guard against ‘emavukelambuso’ (national scourge) like the coronavirus.

“We work in the spiritual and physical realm. We consult with ancestors to ascertain from them what can be used in traditional medicine material (tinyamatane and tihlahla) to give cure to the virus,” he declared.

Moneni TB Centre likely to be COVID-19 quarantine centre

The health ministry is likely to turn the National Multi-drug-resistant Tuberculosis Centre to a coronavirus quarantine centre, according to this week’s media reports.

Our sister publication, Eswatini Observer daily, reported on Thursday that this was one of the hospitals in the list of facilities the ministry was looking into formulating quarantine or isolation centres.

However, the minister of health, Lizzie Nkosi, said her ministry has a lot of work to do before converting the hospital to the quarantine centre.

She said this was due to the fact that the currently the hospital has MDR-TB patients who need to be kept somewhere if the centre is completely identified.

The minister went on to point out that they had identified a confirmed isolation hospital which can be immediately used as a place to isolate people infected with the coronavirus.

About coronaviruses

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

According to the World Health Organisation, a novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. 

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. 


Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans.

Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Prevention, treatment of this coronavirus

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

However, as a reminder, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

n Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

n Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

n Stay home when you are sick.

n Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

n Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

n Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.

n Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

n Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after visiting the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

n If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

What is Covid-19 – the illness that started in Wuhan?

It is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it comes from animals.

Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city.

The COVID-19 virus can cause pneumonia.Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties.

In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs in use against flu will not work.

Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.

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