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JABULA – With immediate effect, businesses operated by foreign nationals on Eswatini National Land (ENL) will be closed if that foreigner has no legitimate citizenship certificate granted by the Citizenship Board.

Home Affairs Minister Princess Lindiwe has issued a directive to the ministry’s compliance team to conduct inspections on foreign operated businesses in rural and urban areas to ascertain if they still complied with the requirements as stipulated by law governing their operations in the country. According to the ministry’s Communications Officer, Mlandvo Dlamini, the team would be undertaking the compliance inspections on a weekly basis from Monday to Thursday. The latest development has been necessitated by the rise in foreign operated businesses situated in communities across the country, both rural and urban areas. Even though figures of emaSwati to be affected by this exercise could not be ascertained, it was established that hundreds of them would be left jobless if the businesses are eventually shut down.


During a visit to some areas of businesses operated by foreign nationals, in particular the small businesses, some of the entities were operated by Somalis and Asian nationals, most of whom did not have the required permits to operate an establishment on ENL. Worth mentioning is that some of the foreigners operating these businesses, like groceries and supermarkets, further claimed that they were running their establishments in a legitimate manner in compliance with the country’s statutes, while others alleged that they had been granted citizenship certificates together with their family members by the Citizenship Board. Section 45 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini No.001 of 2005 stipulates that one acquires a citizenship certificate when born outside the Kingdom of Eswatini by registration through an application to the Citizenship Board, and further satisfy the Board after interviews and presentation of the required documentation.

On another note, Section 49 of the Constitution also talks about the deprivation of citizenship whereupon that person who acquired the citizenship through registration has been declared by a court to have procured it fraudulently, misrepresentation or concealment of material facts. One Asian national, who operates Lukhula Supermarket at Lukhula community under KaLanga Umphakatsi, who called himself Javid, questioned this reporter’s authority of enquiring about his awareness of the law that forbid foreigners from operating businesses on ENL.
“I’ve got nothing to do with the media but I comply with the country’s laws of doing business. I cannot share my personal information with the media,” he said, when asked if he had a citizenship certificate that allowed him to operate a business in rural areas.


Another businessman from Somalia, who operates Walala Wasala Supermarket at Mpolonjeni, said he had the right to operate the business on ENL even though he was enlightened that being an owner of a national identity (ID) document that stated he was not liswati did not permit him to do so. “I am a liSwati and have an ID so I am operating my business in accordance with the Eswatini laws,” he said. When asked if he owned a citizenship certificate, the Somali national was not cooperative and ended the conversation by cutting the telephone call.
However, one of his countryman who operates Jabula Store situated at Jabula community just about 15km from Big Bend, shared that he was aware that a foreigner was not supposed to operate a business on ENL but was eligible to do so in urban areas. The Somali national declined to share his particulars. “I am aware of the law but I am running the shop on behalf of my brother who resides in Manzini,” he said.

However, Arqbal, who operates Mzala Supermarket situated at Mpolonjeni area, said he was a liswati and further declared that he had citizenship certificates for his family members. When asked when he arrived in the country and how he acquired the certificates, the businessman refused to entertain further questions. “I am not at liberty to share any further information as I know that I am liswati and my wife and three children have citizenship certificates,” he said. However, Dlamini (Mlandvo) shared that the ministry’s compliance team would be able to determine if there were fraudulent elements applied when acquiring the citizenship certificates by the foreign nationals who claimed to own them.

“Our Minister Princess Lindiwe has issued a directive on the crackdown of foreigners doing business in rural areas as that is against the law. We have received a number of complaints that there is a notable rise in Asian and Somali nationals who are doing business on the ENL. We want to put a stop to that, hence a compliance team is currently undertaking inspections in communities across the country and even in urban areas,” Dlamini said. He explained that citizenship applications were designed for foreign nationals who wished to assume Eswatini Citizenship upon fulfilling provisions of the Citizenship Act of 1982 and the country’s Constitution.


“Foreign nationals are required to apply and be interviewed and advised to bring all the required documents. Application forms are used and filled accurately and clearly as per the specifications and it is then sent to Interpol for vetting and clearance purposes. Upon receiving the application back from Interpol, a memo is printed with the list of the applications cleared by the Board for approval,” he explained. Economist Thembinkosi Dube applauded the ministry for acting swiftly in addressing the influx of foreigners operating businesses on ENL as it was illegal. Dube described the action as a good move, stating that ENL belonged to emaSwati and foreigners should establish their businesses in urban areas as per the dictates of the law. The economist further acknowledged that this move would ensure that emaSwati were empowered to operate their businesses without competition from the foreign businesspeople. “I think the ministry is doing a commendable job by getting rid of foreigners doing businesses on ENL as it is wrong. EmaSwati should take this opportunity and start businesses that will improve their livelihoods and the economy, as some of these foreign businesspeople transfer their profits to their home countries,” he said.

A traditionalist alleged that some of these foreigners were friends with chiefs, who allowed them to do anything in the communities. Also, the traditionalist blamed some emaSwati who gave their structures to the foreigners, without vetting them if they had the necessary paperwork to be in the country. “This is not only an issue of the foreign businesspeople but the chiefs and emaSwati as well in the communities. Someone gives the foreigners space to operate in. Who is that person? That is the major factor,” the traditionalist, who did not wish to be named, said.