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OPEN LETTER TO PM

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Sir,

Just the other day your new book was a topic of discussion among some friends of mine, who I might add were worried about an availability of a PDF copy.

Well, I had not heard you wrote and published one, so I asked: “What is the PM speaking about in his book? Could it be his privileges or perhaps his iron-fist governing style? Or even his non-commitment to the human development of the citizenry?” See, I understand that you have not a single care for the education of the youth in this country.


It pains me to say in 2016 I stood as I applauded a speech you made when the UNISWA Foundation launched the UNISWA Alumni, in respect of the government funding formula for education, especially at higher level. I could not have known that you were doing what politicians do, misleading the populace, for a quick applause.


Prime minister, as I was writing this letter locked in my room, I was afraid the university registrar might decide to ask us to evacuate from these premises, closing the university indefinitely. This would usually take about two weeks; two weeks that we cannot reclaim.
I read in the newspaper that the Southern African Nazarene University students were deadlocked with the Labour PS and last weekend a friend was telling me William Pitcher was closed, indefinitely. If I were to bring up the issues of the Swaziland Christian University, then I might as well write you a book.


Why would all these universities resolve to closing down indefinitely, costing us our academic calendar? Why is your government so unperturbed by the unrest, in what is globally considered one of the most important sectors of society? It is cruel to set people up for the belief that education is key to their prosperity and then literally play games with their access to that education.

These are lives we are talking about. For most of us, a university education is what our lives depend on if we are to see a life that is even marginally better than this. Students have taken their lives due to the debilitating depression the volatile higher education environment in Swaziland brings.


I would like to know if, in a system so corrupt, education is anything more than window dressing that will get me no further than a good word or prominent surname will. A dream delayed too long, becomes a dream deferred. Sir, shall we be frank and call out the government you head, for its inefficiency and utter disregard for the future of the Swazi child.


I remember a time when students would start the first semester already done with the scholarship process, to even receiving their allowances. I remember a time when there was never an issue of the delayed release of students’ living allowances because the government knew that students depended on these allowances for day-to-day living. I remember a time when government would be swift in ensuring that students had all they needed to have a smooth academic year.


Well, I could be wrong about all this. This could all be in my head. Alas, I hope for a time where students will be at the university for one thing, and one thing only; to learn, study and graduate. As we stand, life at the University of Swaziland has become a waiting game.


We are always waiting for the enthusiastic enough to demand what the contract signed between government and the student dictates and then subsequently the university – justifiable indeed – closing the university down, in a ploy to protect property. Last semester I wrote an open letter to the registrar complaining about the closing down of the university as it affects all students, even those who have no quarrel with government as a sponsor.


Moreover, their response signalled that they would continue to protect the integrity of the university, or what is left of it. We cannot continue blaming the university for shutting us out when they are not the root cause of the problem. Sir, do you realise that all this appears to be a symptom of a dysfunctional department in your government?


It cannot be that you, as the head of government, continue to turn a blind eye to a dysfunctional department that is not only failing the students but is also failing the future of this kingdom. You continue to lead a government that is systematically crippling the literacy of the kingdom.


Shame on you for allowing this to happen under your watch; shame on you for not appearing to care about what is happening in this country. Perhaps the root cause of the problem may be bigger than the way I see it. Yet I can clearly see, as any sane and patriotic Swazi can, it is crippling the education system and as thus, ascertaining doubt into the authenticity of the qualifications these universities produce.


It is saddening that the corporate world has to not only train their newly-graduated employees but also teach them how to do their jobs. What good is a degree that one had to prepare for an exam to acquire? I wonder if these degrees should not be about learning something and then examined to test our understanding.


Tell me, when do you think these students get to learn if they are always striking? The issue is not whether the students are justified or not to do these things, the question is whether the reasons they are doing it are fixable or not, under a patriotic government that cares for the education of its youths.


Prime Minister, the way in which power constellates to trap us in an impossible matrix of confusion is killing us. You find yourself at the very top of the power matrix, looking down upon the chaos your privilege protects you from.


There are some of us who dare to dream so far and wide for the prospect of a better life placed firmly within the responsibility of our own hands. Our hands can only hold so much, for with the impunity and disregard for dignity you are displaying, I find myself feeling that I am at a dead end.


Not only are we being held back from acquiring an education, but also we are being held back from making better lives. What, in this system, is any one life worth if not even entitled to self-determination?


I fear that if unaddressed, this problem will only grow more odious symptoms which will become the topic of countless conferences and symposiums which profit from posturing about our pain.


We are headed for, if we have not already arrived, an economy that thrives on hopelessness and human resignation. I cannot imagine a more inhumane reality visited upon the future of Swaziland. Prime minister; shall this be your legacy?

Melusi

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