Swaziland / eSwatini Minister of Education and Training Lady Howard-Mabuza met school principals as education in the kingdom crumbles through lack of funding.
The Swazi Government has not paid schools fees and support staff have been sacked as a result. Teaching supplies have run out and in some school pupils have been without a teacher for more than a year.
The Minister said that plans for building new schools had been put on hold and hiring of teaching staff was frozen.
More than six in ten schools in Swaziland do not have enough teachers because of government financial cutbacks, the Eswatini Principals Association (EPA) President Welcome Mhlanga had previously said.
Howard-Mabuza said the government was broke and could not afford to finance education.
The problem is not new as the government, appointed by King Mswati III the absolute monarch in Swaziland, has run the economy into the ground over many years. Public services across the kingdom, including health, education and policing are crumbling. The government owes its suppliers about E3 billion (US$215 million).
On Thursday (18 July 2019) teachers and school principals marched on government to present a petition calling for urgent action.
Despite the financial crisis, King Mswati continues to live lavishly. He has two private airplanes, at least 13 palaces and fleets of top-of-the-range cars. At his 50th birthday in 2018 he wore a watch worth US$1.6 million and a suit beaded with diamonds that weighed 6 kg. Days earlier he had taken delivery of his second private jet. This one, an Airbus A340, cost US$13.2 to purchase but with VIP upgrades was estimated to have cost US$30 million.
In 2017 King Mswati was named the third wealthiest King in Africa by the international website Business Insider. It reported he had a net worth of US$200 million (about E2.8 billion in local Swazi currency).
About seven in ten of the estimated 1.2 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than the equivalent of US$2 per day.