Africa-Press – Eswatini. As the political atmosphere seems to get worse by the day, some textile and apparel industry operators say their clients have raised concerns over the instability.

According to some major players in the industry, as they engage in their busiest period of the year, there have been concerns over the political instability in the country from their clients. The operators said the concerns were raised owing to the frequent days wherein operations were frequently disturbed as there were orders advising employees not to report for work. Worth noting is that operations came to a halt on June 29, 2022, as political activists called for the commemoration of the people who were killed in the same period, last year, which marked the beginning of the political unrest in the kingdom. Also, last Monday, August 8, 2022, employees in the industry had a half-day following an audio clip purporting to be an announcement by an anonymous commander.


The audio advised security services to withdraw their services in defending the Tinkhundla Government System, while also making a litany of threats which cannot be repeated given their nature. In the audio, the members of the State security organs were given 14 days (which elapsed last Friday) to withdraw the said services. The threats, through the audio clip, came at a time when the nation was still anticipating partaking in a national dialogue, which political parties have been calling for subsequent to the political unrest experienced in June/July 2021.

Meanwhile, the textile and apparel industry operators said the recent incidents had caused concerns to their clientele as it was their peak season and they had to be productive.

They said the political landscape was happening at the backdrop of the industry facing a decrease in the number of orders, especially from their South Africa buyers since the June/July 2021 unrest. The decrease of orders, according to the stakeholders, was a threat to the employers who could lose business resulting in job losses in the industry that employs about 20 000.

They said their projections reflect that worse was yet to come with the continued increase in fuel prices and threats of industrial actions in the industry. Some of the employers said after the June/July unrest, their clients raised concerns that no one was certain what would happen next. In fact, they said their partners were concerned about the uncertainties of the political situation in the country, which had turned volatile. As a result, they said the buyers were sceptical in trusting that factories in Eswatini could work without any disturbances, thus the amount of orders they placed in the country decreased.


Thereafter, they said due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the price of fuel had increased rapidly and it was projected that there would be other sharp fuel price hikes in the not so distant future. They said this also increased transport costs, yet South Africa was reviving its textile and apparel sector industry with its rebate system. “This literally means it is cheaper for their customers to place orders with the textile factories in South Africa, thus the intention to further cut the amount of work they want to do with us (textile sector in Eswatini),” some of the employers said. They said the buyers’ concern was meeting deadlines as they feared that if there were marches by textile workers in the pipeline, production would be disturbed and the time frames would be affected too.

Therefore, they said as presented, the industry’s future was at stake. However, it is worth noting that there were some few factories, especially those which do cutting, manufacturing and trimming (CMT), said they have not experienced much decline in terms of orders, but they did receive concerns about the new developments, mainly fuel price hike and planned protest actions in the industry.

Meanwhile, the Eswatini Textile and Apparel Traders Association (ETATA) said the concerns from the buyers were genuine and they were monitoring the situation closely. They added that another thing which put the industry at a disadvantage was the South African Rebate system, which was gazetted on March 5, 2021, aimed at bolstering garment manufacturing in small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) and to save jobs in the textile and garments industry by reducing the costs of input materials in the neighbouring country.

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