Friday, March 11, 2011


Swaziland’s Government has caved into student demands that a controversial scholarship plan be scrapped.

The Swazi Cabinet had agreed a new policy that would have seen scholarships replaced by loans and the scrapping of personal allowances.

But students marched to the ministry in protest, saying they had not been consulted on the plan.

The Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) then announced it would take to the streets for four days later this month (March 2011) and bring Swaziland to a standstill to demand the policy be scrapped.

Patrick Mamba, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, who is in charge of the policy, has announced that the policy will be looked at again and new consultations will take place.

Mamba said he has been mandated by cabinet to undertake another round of consultations and that the policy document, which has been approved as the final draft by cabinet, is now said to be only a draft document.

The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, reported Mamba saying there would be further discussions with stakeholders on the way forward.

He said the cabinet view ‘is that the ground should be levelled, so that the consultation process enjoys the full support and confidence of all stakeholders groups’.

Or put another way: Let’s talk to the students. This is after all what the government should have done in the first place.It is not yet known whether the Ministry will allow SNUS to be involved in the discussion. Last month, Mamba refused to accept a petition protesting about the scholarships from the SNUS, because, he said, it wasn’t an officially-recognised organisation.

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