Mass protest goes ahead on wednesday
MBABANE – The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) yesterday rejected concerted efforts by government to prevent them from continuing with their protest action planned for next week Wednesday.
The protest action has been dubbed the ‘Mother of All Actions’ as it is intended to grind the government machinery to a halt.
Last night, SNAT President Sibongile Mazibuko yesterday said come rain or sunshine, the protest action would proceed as planned. This was after teachers had once again voted for the protest action to proceed. The voting process was held from Thursday at the SNAT Centre, Manzini.
She said teachers had again participated in the voting process in their numbers as 4
506 out of 9 700 registered teachers had voted. From those who voted, 98 per cent were for the protest while two per cent were against it.
There were no spoiled votes.
Explaining the voting process, Mazibuko said according to government regulations they needed to have a minimum 35 per cent of their total membership participating in the ballot process.
"Having 4 506 of our total membership vote means we’re at least 11 per cent above the 35 per cent which government requires. And from those who voted, 98 per cent voted that we continue. Seventy were against it while 4 436 were for it.
"We managed to get the necessary votes. With the backing of the votes I’m announcing that the strike is definitely on Wednesday," said Mazibuko.
She said the only thing that would stop them from continuing with the protest right now would be if government gave them the 4.5 per cent salary increase they are requesting. She said it would not matter even if government woke them late at night on Tuesday to say the money is there.
"We would wake-up and alert the membership that the strike is off. But as things stand right now, we are definitely going ahead as planned. The teachers have said so," she said.
The organisation this week had a two-day protest action on Wednesday and Thursday in Mbabane and Manzini.
Over 6 000 teachers and sympathisers are said to have taken part in Wednesday’s march in Mbabane and the numbers were said to have been over 7 000 in Thursday’s strike in Manzini, in which two pupils are said to have been shot by police.
A number of teachers are also said to have been injured in confrontations with the police.
The Minister of Education and Training, Wilson Ntshangase and his Principal Secretary, Pat Muir could not be reached when this report was compiled for publishing at 8:20pm yesterday.
Both their mobile phones rang unanswered. At about 9pm no government officials could be reached for comment.
‘... government intimidating us’
MBABANE – Government is said to have last night made concerted efforts to stop the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) from continuing with their protest action planned for Wednesday
SNAT President, Sibongile Mazibuko, said government summoned them to a meeting to discuss the matter. She said the meeting was held at the Ministry of Public Service and lasted about two hours, from 5pm to 7pm.
According to her, government was represented by what she termed a ‘government team’ which comprised of principal secretaries from numerous ministries namely; Education, Public Service, Finance, Planning, Labour and Social Security.
She described government’s move as sheer intimidation because only the SNAT Executive was summoned to the meeting.
Explaining the contents of the meeting, Mazibuko said government complained of a flaw in the procedure SNAT is executing the strike action.
"We believe government is intimidating us with the hastily convened meeting. The 4.5 per cent salary increment we want from government is not wanted by SNAT only; four unions were part of the salary negotiations process.
"We are then surprised when government summons SNAT to a meeting where the issue of the salary increment is going to be discussed. We couldn’t entertain government during this meeting because by so doing we could have let down the unions collective approach on the matter," said Mazibuko.
She said SNAT is prepared to listen to government provided there is an offer on the table. She said the last agreement the unions had with government clarifies that government will talk to the unions through Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC) provided that there was something to offer.
"We were surprised by this meeting because we thought government was aware of our last resolution," said Mazibuko.
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