22 June 2011
Govt fails to convince unions, march goes ahead
MBABANE – Last minute talks by government with trade unions yesterday (21 June 2011) failed to stop the three-day protest action.
The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) met the representatives of government in an attempt to stop the protest action in a last minute effort. The message from Vincent Ncongwane last night was clear: the protest action goes ahead.
Ncongwane said protesters will meet in six venues where the protest action will be concentrated until Friday this week. These areas are Manzini, Mbabane, Pigg’s Peak, Matsapha, Siteki and Nhlangano. Ncongwane said the protest action is not only about teachers, as all workers and the civic society will take part.
He said trade unions did meet representatives of government yesterday, but there was no solution to their grievances. "Government knows what we want, and we will not settle for less. We did meet their representatives, but there was no way forward on what we want," said Ncongwane.
Ncongwane said workers who will not be able to travel to the venues are encouraged to stay away from work wherever they are. "But I want to assure all people that for the next three days we will be protesting at those venues," said Ncongwane.
When asked whether transport was arranged, Ncongwane said buses will be organised by the branches. He said they have attempted to avoid a possible snub by transport operators.
"Transport will be dealt with at branch levels, or people will travel if they can afford to. That is why we have scattered the protest action across the venues to try to reach as many people as we can. We are trying to also avoid a situation where we find ourselves without transport to ferry membership, in that way we are also avoiding a situation that would put the trade unions under pressure or expose us to possible sabotage," said Ncongwane.
He added that trade unions do not care what the Principals Associations or even parliamentarians say about the protest action.
"Principals can go to school tomorrow (today), but that does not mean teachers will be at school. The same goes for parliamentarians who said we are now tackling politics, who will talk politics in the absence of political parties?" said Ncongwane posing the question to no one in particular.
He said they are convinced that government will get the message because of the large numbers that will show up in all the venues.
"We don’t believe we need to throw stones at anyone for government to get the message. We will be at these venues which is a protest action enough to be taken note of by this government. They will see what the people want, and in September we are planning another huge protest action which will be more demanding on this government," he said.
Ncongwane said the trade unions have engaged the Royal Swaziland Police, and further consultations are expected to take place as the protest action begins this morning.
...principals not part of it, expect children in school
MBABANE - The Swaziland Principals Association expects children to be in school today.
The President of the SWAPA, Charles Bennett said the association has not be alerted of a protest action that will be taking place, thus they expect schools to operate normally. He said parents should send children to school because they anticipate that it will be normal school day.
He said SWAPA met the Ministry of Education for matters that affect the SWAPA, but the matter of the protest action came up during the meeting.
"The Ministry of Education and Training told us their view of the said protest action. So as an independent organisation we have made our own mind on this matter. No one has warned us of a protest action, so we will go to school tomorrow. We will monitor the situation, and if it will be unworkable we will send pupils home," said Bennett. On one of the protest days, Friday, the organisation will hold its own meeting at Mfanyana Hall, in Manzini.
Ministry of Education PS Pat Muir confirmed the meeting.