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NHLANGANO – There was massive chaos after a group of unionists invaded several schools, sending teachers and pupils dashing from classrooms.

This was during the ongoing consultation activities, dubbed ‘vusela’, by the leadership of the local teachers’ union SNAT, around schools over the current industrial action by public sector associations (PSAs) aimed at forcing the employer (government) to heed to the demand of increasing their earnings in the form of cost-of-living adjustments (CoLA).

SNAT is an acronym for the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).
Chaotic scenes were witnessed in several schools across the rural parts of the Shiselweni Region, especially those under the Mbulungwane branch.


The frenzied scenes were first witnessed on Monday morning and later yesterday as union leaders continued with their ‘vusela’ exercise around the schools. Witnesses said in most of the rural schools that have already been visited, teachers would think that they were under siege whenever they spotted the singing and chanting unionists approaching. This would in turn lead to the educators scampering for cover, with some running to hide in nearby forests while others locked themselves inside their houses.

Unsure about what could befall them after their teachers had fled, scared stiff pupils would follow suit, running helter-skelter in dramatic scenes that left onlookers and residents bewildered.
“I thought a fight had broken out among some of the pupils. But the moment I saw our teachers fleeing in all directions, I knew all was not well. In a split second I saw a group of people approaching the school, singing.

“Nobody told me what to do next,” explained a pupil from KaMzila Primary School, during an interview yesterday.
Her school was visited on Monday morning.

From that moment, the pupil said every one within the school premises was running about, with teachers seeking cover in the nearby teachers’ quarters, while others opted for bushes in the vicinity.
After about 10 minutes of chaos, the visitors were able to get an audience with the school administration to explain that they did not intend to harm anyone. Instead, they clarified they were visiting all union members, as an agreed upon activity pertaining to the ongoing tensions with their employer.

That was when some brave teachers took the trouble to call back their colleagues and pupils who were still visible. Thereafter, the teachers and pupils were seen walking slowly back towards the classrooms. However, some of them never bothered to return and as a result only a few were left inside the school premises.

“The pupils went around the community spreading word that they were under attack. They said stones were also pelted on the roofs of their classrooms,” said a resident.
The incident was confirmed by the school Head teacher Derrick Mkhaliphi, when contacted yesterday.
From KaMzila Primary School, the unionists are said to have headed straight to neighbouring schools like Phongolwane Primary School and Ngudzeni High School, where the drama was replicated.

Then yesterday morning, the cycle was again repeated when the unionists continued from where they had left off on the previous day, paying visits to schools like Free Evangelical Assemblies, Ntjanini and Ngudzeni Primary School, where they found pupils already running out of the school compound.

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