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GOVT REOPENS SCHOOLS

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MBABANE – Schools should continue operating as normal with immediate effect.  This is according of a press statement issued by the acting Prime Minister Dr Vincent Mhlanga just after midnight today.


The latest press statement supersedes the one that was issued by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr Sibongile Mtshali around 3:30pm yesterday. In the statement sent earlier, government had called for schools to be closed today, tomorrow and Thursday and only reopen next week Monday because of the proposed TUCOSWA industrial action.


Today’s statement issued by Mhlanga states that in view of the fact that the nation was in the process of elections with no Cabinet and Parliament in office, there were a few things which needed to be addressed.


The latest statement, No. 15/2018, states that the issues raised by TUCOSWA and the unions were attended to by the previous Cabinet and any outstanding issues would be dealt with by the next Cabinet.


“We, therefore, do not expect TUCOSWA and the unions and their members to continue, with their protest and strike action,“ reads the statement. The acting PM said in light of the above, all schools should, therefore continue operating as normal and all teachers and pupils should be in class.  “This statement supersedes the earlier statement by the Ministry of Education and Training suspending classes on September 18, 19 and 20,” said Mhlanga.
The acting PM reiterated that all teachers and pupils were expected to be in class on these dates.


Earlier yesterday, government had taken a decision to close all schools until next week Monday.
Through a statement issued by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training Dr Sibongile Mtshali yesterday afternoon, the PS stated that schools were being closed because of the up-coming industrial action by public sector associations (PSA’s).  Press Statement No.7 of 2018 has since gone viral on many social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp and Facebook where the public was questioning its authenticity. 

The statement reads that schools were to be  closed for the next three days which includes today, tomorrow and Thursday. “Due to the uncertainty of the safety and protection of children during the proposed Industrial Action scheduled for September 18, 19, 20, 2018 planned by TUCOSWA, whose membership includes teachers, the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini, through the Ministry of Education and Training, advises that classes be suspended on the above mentioned dates,” reads the statement.  TUCOSWA is an acronym for the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland.


As a result, government had earlier requested parents to ensure that their children were kept at home during the aforementioned dates. However, that has been cancelled  


“Classes shall resume on Monday September 24, 2018,” it reads.
Meanwhile, last week Friday, over 6 000 teachers voted to strike which made it about 99 per cent of teachers calling for the action.
The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) needed only 50 per cent of its members to vote for the strike action in order to engage in a protected mass industrial action of cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA).


According to the official results which were released by the Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC), out of the 11 191 teachers who were SNAT members, a total of 6 233 cast their votes and of these only 61 balloted against it.


The teachers had initially planned to engage in their strike action tomorrow.
Meanwhile, government has continued to offer a zero per cent increment stating that its fiscal position currently did not place it in a position to offer anything higher.

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