Thursday 2024-05-30




By Simon Shabangu | 2020-08-18

IN light of the COVID-19 outbreak, His Majesty King Mswati III has commanded that this year’s Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony be cancelled to protect the Imbali Regiment and the general public from the coronavirus pandemic.

The news was communicated to the nation and world by Indvuna Yembali  Nonduduzo Zubuko during a media briefing at Ludzidzini Royal Residence yesterday.

This is not the first time the King has cancelled a national event, as in April he cancelled the celebration of his 52nd birthday which was to be held at the King Sobhuza II Memorial Stadium in the Shiselweni region.

In May he cancelled the harvesting of royal fields and only allowed a few men closer to the royal residences to collect wheat.   In all these incidences, His Majesty the King has placed the health of the cation ahead of any big gathering, which may spread the coronavirus.

Zubuko was joined by  Minister of Home Affairs Princess Lindiwe and Umngani Lusendvo Fakudze in announcing what would be received with sadness by the Imbali regiment who are always looking forward to partaking in the annual ceremony thet attracts hundreds of thousands of young maidens and spectators from all over the world.

Zubuko said the ceremony was supposed to start on August 25 and end on  August 31 at Ludzidzini. The Shisewleni Reed Dance,  whic is usually held a  fortnight after the main one at Ludzidzini was also cancelled.  Zubuko said His Majesty has ordered that the event that was supposed to start in two weeks’ time be suspended and alternative ways of getting the reed to  both Ludzidzini and Mbangweni Royal Residences be found.

“Because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the King has commanded that there will be no reed dance at both Ludzidzini and Mbangweni Royal Residences this year. His Majesty the King said there will be other means through which the reed will be brought to the Royal residences,” she said. This is the first time in the history of the annual ceremony that it has to be cancelled. The COVID-19 outbreak has seen the cancellation of a number of international events in  many countries as this is a global pandemic.

One of such big event was the annual Bushfire Festival which also attracts scores of people from across the globe.

The COVID-19 has also grounded a number of industries with the hardest hit being the tourism sector which has seen the loss of many jobs and closure of a number of hospitality establishments.

Umhlanga holiday to be announced…

AT the same briefing, Minister of Home Affairs Princess Lindiwe told the nation that the holiday observing the Umhlanga ceremony is yet to be announced.

She said despite that the ceremony would not take place the public holiday still stands and  would be announced soon. The minister, on the other hand, urged the Imbali regiment to remain home during this period and respect all the regulations as communicated by the ministry of health. She said it was the King’s wish to have a healthy regiment post COVID-19 hence the postponement of this important ceremony which attracts scores of visitors from across the globe.

“As the King has commanded that the Imbali remain home one can advise that Imbali must follow all the regulations and stay safe from COVID-19. You must wash your hands, sanitise and use face masks at all times. We really appreciate the wise leadership of His Majesty for putting the health and safety of the nation first during the outbreak of such a dangerous disease which has affected the world,” she said.

Meanwhile, the country has seen an acute increase of people testing positive for the COVID-19 which has also claimed a number of lives.

Currently, the country has 1 407 people who are being treated for COVID-19 and only 2 268 recoveries. Since March 14, 2020 there are 3 879 cases of COVID-19 that have been confirmed in the country. In seven days the country has recorded seven deaths, bringing the total of COVID-19 deaths to 73.

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