28 March 2017

Swaziland: Swazi King's New University Stalls

King Mswati III has failed in his bid to have a new SADC-wide university up and running in Swaziland by August 2017.

Now, his supporters are saying that only a concept note will be submitted to a Heads of State Summit in August.

King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, announced in August 2016 after assuming the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that a university of transformation taking students from all over the SADC region would open by the time he stood down as chair.

Both the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, and the Swazi Observer, which is in effect owned by the King, reported on 31 August 2016 that King Mswati told the SADC heads of state summit held at Lozitha, 'This initiative will give new hope and opportunity to our youth and our women. The intention is to have the first intake of students prior to the 37th SADC summit in 2017.'

Later, he announced that the new university would be hosted by Limkokwing University, a private institution which has come under fire for its poor standards.

Now, the Sunday Observer (19 March 2017) has reported that a concept note 'stipulating the governance, legal requirements and programmes [at the proposed university] would be submitted to the 37th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State in August.' No revised date has been set for the university's opening.

The Observer, which was called a 'pure propaganda machine for the royal family' in a report on press freedom by the Media Institute of Southern Africa, said this move showed, 'that the plan to establish the university was well thought out'.

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