Swaziland’s Minister of Labour and Social Security has made a veiled threat to scrap university scholarships in the kingdom if students continue to protest against late payments.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula made her comments after management at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) closed the institution after students boycotted classes.
There have been continuing problems at UNISWA – and other tertiary colleges in Swaziland – about late payments of scholarships and allowances. There are also complaints that facilities in universities and colleges are inadequate.
UNISWA closed on Monday (20 February 2017). UNISWA Registrar Dr Salebona Simelane told local media the University Senate had resolved to close down immediately as a precautionary measure following vandalism to property the previous week.
The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday he said, ‘they needed to protect university property and the students themselves from each other’.
Simelane said the university would be closed until further notice.
Last week, police fired warning gunshots as students protested about late payment of their allowances.
The Observer reported Minister Magagula saying the government might have to reconsider issuing scholarships, ‘as they were causing too many problems’.
Following the closure of UNISWA, Magagula said the incident was an unfortunate one as they had met the SRC where they explained the procedures followed when government pays a client.
The Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported her saying, ‘We met with these children and we showed them that we had indeed paid their allowances as these things take time. There are processes that take place.’
The Observer added, ‘Magagula said the students were clearly refusing to cooperate with government and the university hence if there are no scholarships maybe there’ll be no closure for these institutions.’
UNISWA is not the only tertiary education institution complaining against late payments. The Southern African Nazarene University (SANU) in Manzini, Swaziland, has also been closed following student protests against poor facilities and insufficient allowances.
UNIVERSITY CLOSED AFTER STUDENT PROTESTS
SWAZI POLICE FIRE AT STUDENTS