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TEACHERS VOW ABNOROPERATIONS IN SCHOOLS

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MANZINI – In the quest to defend their president, teachers have vowed to make operations abnormal in schools and sensitise pupils about Mbongwa’s dismissal.

The destabilisation of operations in schools, according to the teachers, would be done legally through effecting go-slows in schools. A go-slow is a strategy or tactic, especially a form of protest, in which work or progress is deliberately delayed or slowed down. The educators have also promised to hold vigils at government officials’ homes, where they would be delivering petitions on their grievances, until they get their required responses.
These are some of the resolutions that came from the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) extraordinary urgent general council (GC) meeting, which took place at SNAT Centre yesterday.

Decision-making

The GC meeting is the highest decision-making body of the organisation. Over 500 teachers and some members of political affiliations had convened at the SNAT Centre, where deliberations were made on how the teachers’ union would defend their President, Mbongwa Dlamini, who was fired by government last month.

Mbongwa was dismissed after he was found guilty on all 109 charges of absenteeism, preferred against him by the Teaching Service Commission (TSC). The audience arrived in about 15 buses, while some came in their private vehicles and public transport, clad in their union T-shirts.

Support

As per the norm in such a gathering, they began with vusela exercises, where they were seen singing and dancing to political songs. At some point, they were also seen lifting their president to show him support. In going about effecting the disturbances, SNAT Secretary General (SG) Lot Vilakati said they were going to apply court rules and maintain legality in their actions.

Vilakati said there would be petition deliveries to regional education offices (REOs). These petition deliveries, he said, would be facilitated through structures of regions. The SG mentioned that they would meet through these structures and then report to the GC, to organise dates for the petition deliveries, and thereafter, the petitions would be sent.

He highlighted that there was one government official who they once delivered a petition to, but was now home. He said they hoped to also visit that particular official. “It is a known fact that we are Zionists and prayer warriors. In this regard, we will be holding vigils in the homes of some government officials such as the Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission, who earns about E78 000,” Vilakati supposed.

Petitions

He elaborated that they would announce when the visit would be. He reiterated that members should remember to send these petitions to these officials. The SG said even officers of the law once sent petitions to the National Commissioner of Police, William Tsitsibala Dlamini, and got their required demands. He said the same happened for lawyers. Likewise, Vilakati said it was now the time for teachers to follow suit.

“There will also be a need to sensitise society on the issue of our president. Wherever there is a teacher, the issue of our president should be known how he was mistreated by government. Even young children need to know about this,” said the SG. Addressing the meeting, Vilakati said if he was a history teacher, he would even teach his learners about the issue of their president. He said this to the rapturous applause of the audience.

Meanwhile, the SG asserted that something ought to be done in schools. “Let there be no normalcy in schools. Please understand me well here, I do not mean that we should not monitor exams, assist learners with answers during the external examinations, or that we should boycott marking. But be mindful that you are unwell and that you should not go fast when going to teach,” he said, also to the applause of the meeting.

Resolutions

Adding to the resolutions, Vilakati said those who would speak ill of the teachers union, be it at schools or anywhere, should be recorded; head teachers included. He said those would be noted so that they would be included on the lists of those who would be visited during the vigils. The SG said he was aware that there were also memos discouraging teachers from attending the GC meeting.

“Those too, according to the SG, would be included among the vigils. The same way that government has preached about decentralisation, and so will the work of SNAT be decentralised in the homes of those officials,” he said.
Vilakati added that the petition delivery would also be presented to the Ministry of Education and Training. He clarified that a petition was different from a demonstration, in that a petition was delivered to a  set destination, unlike a demonstration, which was taken to the streets.

“We are not going to make demonstrations but will deliver petitions. As far as I can recall, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Prince Simelane did not revoke the banning of demonstrations. However, he said petition deliveries were not banned,” he said.

Responses

Vilakati said essentially, it meant that if their petitions were not replied, they would spend nights at the government officials’ residences until they received they satisfactory responses. On another note, the SG was of the view that the Recognition Agreement was not complied with. He said the agreement stipulated that meetings were allowed during working hours, as well as the use of schools.

However, Vilakati said the Ministry of Public Service came with a different Recognition Agreement, which was of the assertion that civil servants were banned from participating in political issues and any union politics. According to Vilakati, this was confusing and utterly off side.

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