18 February 2018

Swaziland: Student Protest Leaders Suspended

A university in Swaziland has suspended student leaders for 'misconduct' for organising a protest over fees, allowances and poor facilities.

And, all first-year students at the campus in Manzini have been sent home indefinitely following continued class boycotts. It happened at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU).

The Student Representative Council (SRC) Secretary-General Tiger Nxumalo and President Zamokuhle Mamba were handed letters of suspension. Other members of the SRC executive were informed verbally of their suspension.

The Swazi Observer (16 February 2018) quoted Mamba saying they had been charged with misconduct and were awaiting a disciplinary hearing.

A spokesperson for SANU said property had been vandalised by protesting students.

Students at SANU have a number of issues including delayed payment of allowances for first-year students, withholding of ongoing students allowances, unreasonable allowance reduction, lack of project allowances, exorbitant fees and poor infrastructure. They petitioned the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Swaziland Higher Education Council (SHEC) on Monday (12 February 2018). The petition came after a class boycott that started on the previous Wednesday.

There have been class boycotts across college campuses in Swaziland. Students at the kingdom's biggest university UNISWA have been protesting about delays in payment of allowances. The university was closed on Monday.

SANU has a poor history of student relations. In 2014, they were told they could not resume their studies following class boycotts in the Faculty of Health Sciences unless they gave the university the names of strike leaders.

Students were forced to reapply to study and as part of that application they were told to complete questionnaires which included three questions: How did the student body resolve to boycott classes in the absence of a student representative council? Who was responsible for calling all students out of their classrooms to join the strike? Do you know who were in the forefront of the strike action / the leaders? Name them.

The students went on strike in a dispute over allowances, poor learning conditions in the institution, insufficient books in the library and lack of laboratory equipment for science experiments.

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