Swaziland students are to march on the government on Wednesday (16 March 2011) in the latest move in their fight to save scholarships from being abolished.
The students planned to have a mass meeting last Saturday in Manzini but it had to be called off at the last minute after their booking at the venue was cancelled.
The Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), in a statement issued via its Facebook site, said state police had intervened and forced the closure.
Wednesday’s protest will go ahead, even though the government had conceded that the policy that would have seen scholarships replaced by loans and all personal food and accommodation allowances for students scrapped could be reopened and discussed again.
Maxwell Dlamini, SNUS Secretary General, said nothing had changed or would change their decision to march.
He said they would inform Magobetane Mamba, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, today about the march to prepare him to receive a petition on Wednesday.
‘Nothing will stop us from marching,’ the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, reported him saying.
Students from all institutions of higher learning in Swaziland are expected to take part.
The Observer reported Dlamini saying this was not the first time the minister had asked for students’ views on the scholarship policy, but in the past they had not been considered.
He said he hoped they were not being taken for a ride this time around.
‘We submitted our inputs in April last year. Nothing was done about it. If the minister says he is opening for input this time, we hope he is not just making a window-dressing. We want changes in the policy in a way that it accommodates everyone.’
He added, ‘We want commitment from the ministry with regards the policy. We do not want to see what happened last year where the minister made us submit our input but never considered them.’