Swazi university shut down by protests over allowances, Internet

By AT editor - 21 February 2017 at 4:59 am
Swazi university shut down by protests over allowances, Internet

The University of Swaziland closed Monday as student protests and class boycotts that flared up last week continued into the new one.

Dr Salebona Simelane, registrar for the university, said students at the Kwaluseni campus are angry about student allowances they say are unpaid, which led to clashes last week. Those incidents informed the school’s decision to cancel classes in the interest of student safety and protection of campus property.

University management last week banned student groups from meeting or organizing, and the decision to close the campus until further notice was, in part, because students continued to do so in violation. Their determination signaled to administrators that precautions were necessary, he said.

A student representative told the Swazi Observer that in addition to the overdue allowances, students are concerned about a lack of Internet access since the beginning of the new semester. Students are frustrated and are getting no clear answers about when they will have academic and research access.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula said students were told the allowances were in process, but they lacked patience. Magagula also appeared to threaten student scholarships, saying that if there was no cooperation with the government and school, perhaps there should not be any scholarships either.

Protests last year also resulted in vandalism over registration deadline extensions and student allowance checks. At least one student was seriously injured.

In 2011, the country’s only university was shuttered by a lack of funding during an economic crisis.



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