Swaziland: Six in Ten School Support Staff in Swaziland Not Paid for Three Months As Financial Crisis Bites

Six in ten people working as support staff in schools across Swaziland (eSwatini) have not been paid for the past three months, a trade union reported.

Phumelele Zulu of the Swaziland Union in Learning and Allied Institutions (SULAI) said 60 percent of its 860 members were owed salaries dating back to October last year.

In total they were owed more than E5 million.

Swaziland which is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch is in financial meltdown and public services across the kingdom are grinding to a halt.

The Times of eSwatini reported Zulu said the Swazi Government had not released money to pay for the Free Primary Education (FPE) programme.

Zulu said, 'The situation, particularly in rural schools, is worse as infrastructure is dilapidated and needs serious upgrading. Paint on the walls is peeling off and windows are broken. We have been raising these issues with the Ministry of Education and Training and urging them to at least find a strategy that would see the grants being released on time to schools but to this day, nothing has changed.'

In July 2019 Minister of Education and Training Lady Howard-Mabuza met school principals as schools in the kingdom crumbled through lack of funding.

The Swazi Government had not paid schools fees and support staff were sacked as a result. Teaching supplies ran out and in some schools pupils had 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 did 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 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).

In July 2019 teachers and school principals marched on government to present a petition calling for urgent action.

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