As we are well within the festive season, may I encourage each one of us to reflect on the true meaning of this time. It is specially comforting to consider as the year 2020 comes to an end. It has been a trying year, we have lost our loved ones, suffered economic impacts, the list is endless. Our commitment and resilience has been encouraging though. We met the challenge of COVID-19 and its ongoing impact upon each and every part of our lives. We washed our hands, we distanced, we wore masks and we questioned whether to agree with what we were told or act upon our own instincts. Our day-to-day rituals were altered. But all in all, we coped with it as best as we could.
It is a known fact that this year’s festive season will be a lot different from what we had anticipated when we jotted out plans in the beginning of the year and this is probably an understatement. Our vacations, weekend activities and special celebrations have been disrupted or cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially now as we approach what has been termed as the 2nd Wave.
There are a number of things to remember or precautions to take to ensure that we are safe this festive. These may include:
May I request that we keep our gatherings minimal as per the Covid-19 safety guidelines. Additionally, let us continue to apply all the safety practices which are:
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Stay home if you feel unwell.
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention
Snake Bites Precautions
We are also noting that suddenly there are a lot of cases of snakebites around the country. The total number of snakebites from 15 facilities around the country in the period between Oct 2019 and June 2020 was 438. As such we advise that safety precautions must be taken since this is now an issue of a national concern due to the increase in temperatures. People are therefore implored to:
- Avoid places where snakes may live. These places include tall grass or brush, rocky areas, fallen logs, bluffs, swamps, marshes, and deep holes in the ground.
- When moving through tall grass or weeds, poke at the ground in front of you with a long stick to scare away snakes.
- Watch where you step and where you sit when outdoors.
- Wear loose, long pants and high, thick leather or rubber boots.
- Shine a flashlight on your path when walking outside at night.
- Never handle a snake, even if you think it is dead. Recently killed snakes may still bite by reflex
No Plastic Campaign
As per our vision of ensuring sustainable development by integrating all environmental issues in the development of the town, Council has joined the ‘No Plastic Campaign’ wherein the Eswatini Environment Authority (EEA) in collaboration with and support from United Nations Development Plan (UNDP), has developed the ‘Phatsa Sakho Nawe Campaign’ which was launched by the Honourable Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs on the 25th of November 2020. The Campaign seeks to reduce the use of single use plastic bags by replacing them with reusable shopping bags. The campaign which takes place every weekend (Friday – Sunday) started from the 4th December 2020 and will end February 2021.
We therefore encourage employees to adopt sustainable consumption patterns by participating in the Campaign.
There are a number of safety precautions that we need to be cognisant of, these may vary from crime safety, food safety and generally being safe as we engage in different activities, such as shopping, drinking, firework lighting, while we driving and many others. While Council through the Security Rangers and The Royal Eswatini Police join forces every year to tighten security around Matsapha, the honours is also upon us to be vigilant at all times to ensure our safety and also consider others.
Avoid Illegal Activities
May I encourage that while you celebrate this festive, make sure you refrain from any illegal activities. With the limited services by Council, the public is requested not to assume and make it a leeway to skip some set processes. These may include illegal construction and illegal vending. The public is reminded that the relevant penalties will be charged to any offenders.
Finally, festivities require the use or spending money. As we do so let us remember to plan our finances accordingly and spend money accordingly. More so in this time where most people have been hit hard financially due to Covid-19. We need to remain cognisant of the financial obligations that we have the coming year.
I sternly believe that if we try apply the abovementioned precautions, we can have a merry festive season. On behalf of Matsapha Town Council, may I wish you all a safe and happy festive season.