Thursday, June 27, 2019

Swaziland public servants talk of working three-day week as wages dispute drags on

Public servants in Swaziland / eSwatini are threatening to work only three days a week in the latest move in a two-year-old pay dispute.

They want a 14.4 percent cost of living increase but the government of absolute monarch King Mswati III has said it cannot afford to pay anything.

Public service unions marched on government on Wednesday (26 June 2019) to deliver a petition.

After the march the Times of Swaziland reported union negotiators said if the government did not meet their pay claim by July, public servants would only work three days a week in future. 

It reported, ‘Their argument was that as it was, they were working five days per week but received a salary equivalent to three days, based on the erosion by inflation rate in the past two financial years.’

Negotiations are due to continue between unions and government next Wednesday.

Four public service unions have joined forces in the negotiation; they are the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) and the Swaziland Government Accountants Personnel (SNAGAP).

Ahead of the march, SNAT said the government claimed it had no money but continued to spend on ‘national celebrations that do not feed into the developmental agenda for the country’. These included the King’s Birthday. It said, ‘Millions of Emalangeni were spent in these vanity activities and yet the middle class and the poor continued to live in abject poverty. With 70 percent of the population living in rural areas and 63 percent of the population living below the bread-line, it spells doom for Swaziland.’

See also

Industrial Court stops Swaziland public servants strike at last minute

Swaziland absolute monarch gets millions in cash as birthday gifts while people die through lack of medicine

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Swaziland with world’s worst HIV rate only has four months’ ARV supplies

Swaziland / eSwatini which has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world has only four months stock of life-saving ARV drugs, as the health system in the kingdom continues to disintegrate.

The government of the kingdom ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III has not paid drug suppliers because it is broke.

The shortage was revealed to members of the Ministry of Health Portfolio Committee when they toured the kingdom’s Central Medical Stores (CMS) in Matsapha which houses Swaziland’s medical supplies.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Simon Zwane, said ARVs were available but not in adequate supply. They preferred to have stock for seven months. 

The Times of Swaziland reported CMS Deputy Director Themba Motsa said government allocated about E270 million for ARVs supply, but the Ministry of Finance released only E68 million which was paid to the various suppliers. 

The newspaper added, ‘He said the paid amount did not even cover the E100 million owed by the Ministry of Health to the suppliers. This, he said meant that the ministry was able to use the available resources to partly pay the suppliers, but there was still no funds to beef up the supply of ARVs.’

Chairman of the Ministry of Health Portfolio Committee, Mduduzi ‘Small Joe’ Dlamini said the Ministry of Health also suffered fuel shortages.

Swaziland Positive Living (SWAPOL) Director Siphiwe Hlophe said, ‘This is a disaster.’ She said Swaziland must prioritise buying ARVs. She added she had received reports that some clinics were allegedly rolling out expired ARVs to patients, especially those who were ignorant.

Hlophe said, ‘Does the country want us to die because if the shortage continues, a number of people will relapse.’ She said Swaziland would go back to a time where funerals were being held in every corner.

Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. As of 2017, 27 percent of the population, or 210,000 people, were infected. There were reportedly 7,000 new infections in that year.

Swaziland’s health system is in meltdown mainly because the government, which is not elected but appointed by King Mswati III, has not paid suppliers.

Medicines of all sorts have run out in public hospitals and health clinics across Swaziland. Local media reported in the past that many people, including children, have died as a result.
Hospital equipment, including at intensive-care units, has not been maintained and cannot be used. In September 2018 it was reported Mbabane Government Hospital was unable to feed its patients because it had no money. There are 500 beds at the hospital. Hlatikhulu Government Hospital faced a similar problem in February 2019. 

In June 2018 it was revealed there were only 12 working public ambulances in the whole of Swaziland because the government failed to maintain them. It had bought no new ambulances since 2013.

See also

Swaziland health crisis getting worse as budgets cut. Rural areas most affected

Medicine shortage: five die

Report: patients die as Swaziland government hospital runs out of cash

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Swaziland teacher arrested after boy, 10, beaten for defiance, needed medical treatment

A schoolteacher in Swaziland / eSwatini has been arrested after allegedly whipping a 10-year-old boy.

Corporal punishment was banned in the kingdom in 2015 but is still frequently used.

In the latest case reported, the boy from Gilgal Primary School needed treatment at a health centre. 

The teacher whipped the boy and kicked him while he was on the ground, according to a report in the Times of Swaziland. He was punished for defying the teacher, the newspaper said. He received a bruised lip, a swollen cheek and bruises on his back.

The teacher, Thulile Fortunate Mhlanga, aged 39, was charged under the Children Protection and Welfare Act.

There have been numerous reports of teachers illegally using corporal punishment. In March 2019 a 12-year-old girl at Mkhuzweni Primary School had her fingers broken when she was caned 25 times across her hand.

In November 2018 it was reported police were investigating St Theresa’s Primary School, Manzini, following an allegation that teachers whipped children to make them do better in their exams. In June 2018 teachers reportedly caned every pupil at Mbuluzi High School for poor performance. 

In August 2017 it was reported boys at Salesian High, a Catholic school, were forced to take down their trousers and underpants to allow teachers to beat them on the bare buttocks.

In May 2017 pupils at Lubombo Central Primary School in Siteki were thrashed because they did not bring enough empty milk cartons to class. 

In March 2017 children at Masundvwini Primary School boycotted classes because they lived in fear of the illegal corporal punishment they were made to suffer. Local media reported that children were hit with a stick, which in at least one case was said to have left a child ‘bleeding from the head’. 

In August 2016 an eight-year-old schoolboy at Siyendle Primary School, near Gege, was thrashed so hard in class he vomited. His teacher reportedly forced classmates to hold the boy down while he whipped him with a stick. It happened after a group of schoolboys had been inflating condoms when they were discovered by the teacher.

In June 2016 the school principal at the Herefords High School was reported to police after allegedly giving a 20-year-old female student nine strokes of the cane on the buttocks. The Swazi Observer reported at the time, ‘She was given nine strokes on the buttocks by the principal while the deputy helped her by holding the pupil’s hands as she was made to lie down.’

In September 2015 the Times reported a 17-year-old school pupil died after allegedly being beaten at school. The pupil reportedly had a seizure.

In March 2015 a primary school teacher at the Florence Christian Academy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm after allegedly giving 200 strokes of the cane to a 12-year-old pupil on her buttocks and all over her body.

In February 2015 the headteacher of Mayiwane High School Anderson Mkhonta reportedly admitted giving 15 strokes to a form 1 pupil for not wearing a neck tie properly.

In April 2015, parents reportedly complained to the Ndlalane Primary School after a teacher beat pupils for not following his instruction and shaving their hair. 

See also

Children fear beatings, miss school
Cane banned in Swazi schools
Teachers beat boys on naked buttocks

Research in Swaziland suggests spanking children is harmful and can cause mental problems