For the first time in the history of this tiny, semi feudal, neo colonial, quasi capitalist kingdom, the students of Swaziland met under the umbrella organisation SWAZILAND NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS (SNUS) to discuss and deliberate issues affecting them. The meeting was held in Manzini. Students came from the all tertiary institutions of the country.
The issues that were discussed include the proposed draft scholarship policy which the undemocratic government of the king intend to make it law without engaging the students to make inputs as major stakeholders. Mswati’s government still fails to recognize the students as major stakeholders in the education sector, thus the continual sidelining of the students in the decision making process. The students therefore resolved to resist this draft scholarship policy as they were not involved in the decision making process.
Moreover the students are demanding an increase in their personal allowances. Their allowances have not increased since 1992 and they are currently receiving R462.00 per annum. This is an insult to the students of Swaziland if you look at the current economic situation of the country. The inflation rate has increased dramatically over the decade.
The student are also demanding that government should register their union and stop frustrating the registration process as this is a violation of human rights contained in the UN Declaration of human rights and the constitution of Swaziland. We strongly believe that the students of Swaziland have a right to associate and to join or not to join any organisation.
The students then resolved to march to the appointed Prime minister to deliver the petition with their grievances. They have resolved to render the government ungovernable and impossible for her to operate until their demands are met. They will not return to class until government meet their demands. They will flock the streets of the country from Monday up until everything is sorted.
The Students will be marching under the banner of SNUS in what is set to become a watershed moment in the history of student’s struggles. We however continue to appeal for financial support because the union is still handicapped financial especially because these struggles they are engaged in have been ‘disowned’ by some of the so called Non government organisations, particularly CANGO. In the preparations for the student mass meeting held at Bosco skilled centre on Saturday, attended by over 1000 students from all tertiary institutions (this massive turn out is despite the fact that SNUS’s strong hold, UNISWA, was closed) CANGO had promised to pay the buses that were used to ferry the students. When CANGO’s Director was approached on his pledged he said they would not support our struggles because ‘we want to overthrow the state’. They said they won’t support people who are violent and fighting government. We were shocked at this level of political prostitution by CANGO particularly because in other ‘moderate’ sessions they would patronise us about how much support they would give to the students. To this end we find ourselves currently running helter skater trying to get money to pay for the buses and other costs we incurred organising the meeting and the subsequent marches.
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Statement issued by SNUS Organising Secretary Maxwell Dlamini