Big meet for parents
MBABANE – The three main umbrella civic society organisations have called a mass parents meeting for Wednesday to find a solution to the government/teachers’ deadlock.
The meeting, which will be held at Bosco Skills Centre at 10am, has been called by the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organi-sations (SCCCO), Coordinating Assembly of Non Governmental Organisations (CANGO), and the Council of Churches.
The resolution to convene the mass meeting was reached yesterday during a special meeting held at the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Centre.
More than 10 unions, civic organisations and political parties attended the high-profile meeting to find a way forward to the deadlock.
This meeting comes at the height of the teachers’ protest action dubbed ‘Waya Waya’ (Indefinite) which enters Day Seven today.
The teachers are demanding a 4.5 per cent salary increment. The public service union has also indicated that it will take to the streets on July 11 to demand a similar salary increment.
Government’s position is that it does not have the money the workers are demanding.
Last week the Prime Minister announced that the situation was so dire that government would not be able to increase civil service salaries for at least three years.
The indefinite strike has been marked by disruption of classes by striking teachers which has seen them collide with police who have had to fire rubber bullets and tear gas canisters in some instances.
Some teachers have been arrested while some pupils have found themselves in the middle of the commotion.
SNAT Secretary General, Muzi Mhlanga, said the meeting has been called by the civic organisations because they are also unsatisfied with the current atmosphere.
"Civic organisations are unhappy with the statements made by the Minister of Education Wilson Ntshangase that there is no solution to the impasse since government is reportedly without money," Mhlanga said.
He said the meeting will seek to get an input from parents and other stakeholders on a solution to the impasse.
"Members of Civic organi-sations, as parents, feel that government is not doing enough to deal with the deadlock," the secretary general said.
Emmanuel Ndlangamandla, the Director of Cango, confirmed the meeting and said they wanted a solution to the problem.
Ndlangamandla said they feel that the teachers’ demands were genuine when considering the cost of living.
Government Press Secretary, Percy Simelane, did not answer his mobile phone when called last night.
Simelane also did not respond to a text message that was sent to him on this proposed meeting.
The Minister of Education also did not respond when called last night.
Motshane parents to march to PM’s office
MBABANE – Parents from Motshane schools are marching to the Prime Minister’s office today to demand the closure of all schools in the country.
This is a resolution that was communicated during a meeting held at the SNAT Centre in Manzini yesterday.
Reliable sources revealed that the concerned parents have voiced their concerns through the school committees which will march to the PM to call for the closure of all schools pending a resolution to the impasse between teachers and government.
"The parents from Motshane want schools closed as long as the teachers’ indefinite strike continues," the source said.
He said the parents were concerned that pupils were using resources to go to schools every day only to be turned back because teachers were on strike.
The source further said members of the school committees were worried that going to school was exposing pupils to all sorts of dangers including complications associated with peer pressure.
He also revealed that the resolution to march to the PM was taken on Friday in a meeting which was attended by the legislator of the area, MP Robert Magongo.
At the executive meeting held at SNAT Centre yesterday, the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organi-sations (SCCCO) reliably pledged to provide parents with transport.
MP Magongo confirmed that they held a meeting with parents where a numbers of issues were discussed.
He said parents voiced their concerns over the attitude of Government Press Secretary, Percy Simelane.
The legislator said parents complained that Simelane addressed the impasse in a manner which undermined their dignity.
Magongo sounded surprised when told that the parents would march to the head of government today.
He said he pleaded with them to wait while he tried to engage the PM.
Pupils must go to school - SWAPA
MBABANE – Pupils should continue going to school, the Swaziland Principals Association (SWAPA) said yesterday.
President of the association Mduduzi Bhembe said schools were not yet closed so they expect pupils in school.
Meanwhile, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) said their indefinite strike continues.
SNAT Secretary General Muzi Mhlanga said nothing has changed regarding their strike action.
He said should there be any changes, they would be communicated tomorrow following the mass meeting.
Mhlanga would not elaborate on what would happen today but said they were not teaching.
UNISWA students to join teachers
MBABANE – University of Swaziland (UNISWA) students will today join teachers in their ‘Waya Waya’ protest action.
UNISWA has about 6 000 students in its three campuses which are Kwaluseni, Mbabane and Luyengo.
In a statement issued by the Students Representative Council (SRC) President Sibusiso Nhla-batsi yesterday, he urged all students in the country to join the teachers’ indefinite strike which is entering Day Seven today.
The SRC president said they are still working on the logistics of calling a big students’ meeting but were calling on students to immediately join the teachers in their protest action as a demonstration of solidarity.
"The cost of living is very high. Teachers deserve the 4.5 per cent salary increment or more as politicians have benefited from Circular No.1 of 2010," Nhlabatsi said.
The students’ leader said govern-ment’s ‘arrogance’ in the way it has dealt with the teachers was disturbing. He said students had every reason to associate themselves with teachers.
Nhlabatsi said besides being just in solidarity with the teachers, they were also entering the fray because today’s university students are tomorrow’s teachers.
He said some student were currently doing their teaching practice while others were already working.
"We are of the view that government should be taking this issue seriously and with a high degree of maturity," he said.
He said the hardships faced by teachers were similar to those they were encountering at UNISWA.
Nhlabatsi said students would not watch the situation unfolding without intervening because the country was on the brink of collapse. The Swaziland National Association of Teachers’ Secretary General Muzi Mhlanga welcomed the support from UNISWA students.
"That’s encouraging. In times like this you need solidarity," he said.
Meanwhile, Government Press Secretary, Percy Simelane, said only an ‘irresponsible and visionless citizen of this country could elect to join disorder.’
He said government’s position remained the same which is that there is no money for the increment that the teachers are demanding.
"My experience is that the fly that goes with the coffin is buried with the corpse," he said.
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