Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Swaziland’s absolute monarch grants scholarship to student who begged him on hands and knees

King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland/ eSwatini, has granted a scholarship to a female student who publicly got down on her hands and knees to beg him for one.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, said on Tuesday (15 January 2019) this ‘proved that he listens to the needs of the people and acts fast’.

Mphilwenhle Matsebula, aged 26, a first year student at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) made international news in September 2018 when according to the Observer ‘she literally begged for a scholarship’. It happened when King Mswati was touring the International Trade Fair at Manzini.

The Observer reported, ‘Matsebula has been granted the scholarship as per His Majesty’s order. Previously, Matsebula’s life at the institution was very difficult because government had initially refused to grant her the scholarship. She had been told she did not qualify for it.’

Swaziland’s education system like all public services is presently in crisis because the government, handpicked by King Mswati, is broke. In November 2018 it was reported students were forced to sell themselves for sex to businessmen and affluent tourists because government had not paid allowances.

The Sunday edition of the Swazi Observer reported at the time, ‘delayed payments of allowances which themselves are meagre force girl students into availing themselves for sexual favours in exchange for food, drinks and other goodies’.

There is an ongoing dispute between students and the government over the payment of scholarships and allowances that cover fees, living expenses and items such as books. In May 2017, the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) launched a campaign for scholarships for all. They want the Swazi Government to reverse a decision to prioritise courses and cut scholarships by 60 percent. Students want all students admitted to higher learning institutions to have scholarships, regardless of the programme they are doing or the institution they are in.

Meanwhile, the outgoing President of SNUS Brian Sangweni told its 11th National General Congress in 2018 that thousands of high school graduates with good grades remained idle at home because the government would not pay them scholarships to study.

He said, ‘Those who are lucky to make it and enrol into the institutions are also not off the hook of suffering due to lack of living allowances to enable them to live a healthy and dignified period of study and to realise their optimal potential.’

He added students were finding it hard to concentrate to their studies and some dropped out or committed suicide because of the pressure.

Mpilwenhle Matsebula begs King Mswati Swaziland’s absolute monarch (far left) for a university scholarship. (Picture: Swazi Observer)

See also

In full public view, on hand and knees student begs Swaziland king for scholarship

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