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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

STUDENTS SET TO FIGHT FOR RIGHTS

Students in Swaziland are on a collision course with the government after it was confirmed that scholarships and allowances are to be cut.


In a press statement the government press office said necessary consultations were made by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security with tertiary institutions, financial institutions, the business community, members of parliament and students.


The view of the ‘majority of the stakeholders’ was taken into consideration, according to the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.


However, the views of students who are set against the changes which mean fewer people will be able to go to university because the number of government scholarships will be cut, were ignored.


Students in Swaziland have a reputation for taking direct action in the form of class boycotts, petitions and marches when they have grievances with government or with the administration at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA).


Maxwell Dlamini, the National Organising Secretary for the Swaziland National Union Students (SNUS), said in a statement that the new rules would mean that ordinary Swazi people will have to pay tuition fees for university and other tertiary colleges.


‘There will be no personal and meal allowances for the current students in tertiary institutions,’ he said.


He added, ‘The question now is, will we allow government to take what is rightfully ours? Should we allow government to reduce education to a commodity that can be bought and sold at the behest of the wealthy?’


He went on, ‘Should we betray our brothers and sisters who fought to the bitter end to see justice prevail in 1990. Well for some of us we will not. We are ready to take the journey that most of Swazis are scared and afraid to take.


‘The path of surrender and subservience is not open to us. The path of obedience and compromise is also not open to us. There is only one way only; that is the path of sacrifice. It is the path of war and reluctant struggle.’


Dlamini said a meeting would soon be convened to discuss the way forward by the students.

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