Limkokwing, the private university in Swaziland / eSwatini favoured by the kingdom’s absolute monarch, has petitioned the High Court to force boycotting students back to class.
An urgent application was filed on Thursday (22 August 2019) to stop the boycott that has been running for much of the past week.
Students are protesting against a number of issues, including the payment of allowances, scholarships for all admitted first year students and involvement of students in decision-making. Last week with students from the public University of Eswatini (formerly UNISWA) and Eswatini Christian Medical University they marched on the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to deliver a petition outlining their grievances.
The university in its High Court submission said there had been clashes between police and students on university premises. ‘Violence is likely to continue and escalate,’ it stated.
The Limkokwing University of Creative Technology was launched in Swaziland only after an intervention by King Mswati. In June 2011, it emerged that the university’s founder Tan Sri Dato Lim Kok Wing had a meeting with King Mswati and convinced him that Swaziland needed a new university.
He persuaded the King that sub-degree courses in such subjects as graphic designing, tv & film production, architectural technology, advertising, creative multimedia, information technology, event management, business information technology, journalism and media, public relations and business management, would help Swaziland, which is mainly an agricultural society, to prosper.
Once the King gave his support nobody in his kingdom stood in its way. Limkokwing started in Swaziland illegally because an Act of Parliament was needed to set up a university, but Limkokwing was allowed to start without parliament’s approval.
In 2013, the university awarded King Mswati an honorary doctorate in ‘human capital development.’
Limkokwing, part of an international group of campuses, has been controversial since it opened in Swaziland in 2011. Students and education commentators have highlighted the poor quality of courses, staff and resources.
Limkokwing was chosen by King Mswati to house his University of Transformation to take students from across the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. The King became chair of SADC in August 2016 when he pledged the university would be operating by August 2017. Nothing substantial happened and the plan remains stalled.
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