An executive member of the student body at the University of Swaziland is calling for the reopening of all universities and colleges after the government indefinitely closed all tertiary institutions following student class boycotts and demonstrations.
Sam Keliso Nxumala said the government has flouted the constitution by failing to provide free basic education as stipulated in the recent constitution.
“We want government to provide free quality education for primary pupil because there is a constitutional clause that says government after three years of the constitution, every primary pupil who goes to primary school shall be provided free education. Now, that clause was never implemented… they went to court and the court said government must provide free education at primary school,” he said.
Swazi media reported that some students rioted during the protest which led to the destruction of properties on some campuses.
The students rejected the government’s latest initiative to cut back on scholarships because it said the recent economic meltdown has adversely affected funding.
Nxumalo said allowances given to students have not seen any increase in the last 12 years.
“The students are saying they want their personal allowance to be increased because about 12 years if not more it hasn’t been increased,” Nxumalo said.
King Mswati III has been criticized for what is often described as excessive spending, including a recent government-funded shopping spree to the Middle East by his wives, and the purchase of 11 luxury cars to transport guests.
Nxumalo said the government cannot justify its lack of funds claim.
“The reason why the students decided on these kinds of demands is because indications are that government has got money, but it is spending it in the wrong areas. There has been a lot of expenditure that doesn’t benefit anyone except for the rulers. There has been a lot of awarding of money particularly to politicians. Recently they had their salaries, I think, tripled,” Nxumalo said.
Officials of the government were not immediately available for comments despite repeated attempts.