Wednesday, August 19, 2009


After the Swaziland Government launched its purge of civil servants who have an interest in politics, comes a call for schools, universities and colleges to be targeted next.

The Public Service Bill which is going through parliament states that civil servants who are considered by the Swaziland ruling elite to be ‘political’ would be given the chance to recant and if they didn’t they would be sacked from their jobs.

The new bill, which could become law as early as next month, says it will be an offence for a public servant to be ‘visibly associated’ with a political formation or organisation. It will also be an offence to be a member of a political party.

Now, Walter Bennett, a prominent businessman and former Swaziland Senator, has called for schoolteachers and college and university leaders to be screened to see whether they are supporters of the Tinkhundla system of government. If they are not, they should be sacked, he says.

Under Tinkhundla all political parties are banned and King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, makes all the important decisions. Last year he unconstitutionally appointed Barnabas Dlamini as the kingdom’s prime minister.

According to the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, Bennett told a gathering at Lozitha primary School last week that it was high time the government screened college and university leaders to make sure they supported the political system in Swaziland.

The Observer quoted him saying, ‘Every time we see students from the colleges and the university march and one wonders why. Some of the students disappear after getting allowances,” he said.

He said teachers who are against the Tinkhundla system should also be removed. Bennett said principals should also make sure that teachers in schools adhere to our system of governance.

Bennett has a reputation for outspokenness and is unafraid to speak out on matters he knows little about (see for example his comments on HIV and his call to beat up workers). He is also openly racist and has regularly verbally attacked Asians.

Despite his shortcomings as a social and political commentator, Bennett is afforded considerable respect by the Swaziland media and many ordinary Swazis so unfortunately we cannot simply ignore his latest ranting.

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