Thousands of teachers affiliated to the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) held an Extra Ordinary Meeting at the SNAT Centre in Manzini on Wednesday 26 September 2018. This followed an illogical court judgment which decreed that the legal teachers’ strike action which was supposed to start on 25 September 2018 should be postponed to 23 November 2018.
Teachers of Swaziland have been engaged in resilient protests against the Mswati autocracy since 24 August 2018. This peaceful protest also followed a night vigil on 23 August 2018. The teachers demand a 6.5 percent cost of living adjustment, known as COLA. Despite the peaceful protests, teachers were met with massive brutality from the royal police who often shot at the workers with live bullets.
In their Extra Ordinary Meeting on Wednesday 26 September 2018, teachers resolved to engage in various organisational activities on a daily basis since Mswati’s government has denied them the legal strikes. The activities, among others include:
1. Delivery of petitions in the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Service, Ministry of Health and other government ministries;
2. Branch and regional activities, including Vuselas;
3. Branch meetings (report backs) until the date which was set by Mswati’s judge for the strike (23 November 2018) is reached.
But before the date of 23 November 2018 is reached, teachers declared in no uncertain terms that they will not participate in all school examination processes (from setting of examination papers, monitoring of learners and marking of scripts). Teachers declared that anyone who shall participate in these processes, be they police or soldiers, shall meet the wrath of the angry teachers.
Teachers’ action continues today
On the morning of Thursday 27 September 2018, teachers will send a petition to the United States Embassy in Mbabane to demand that the United States deports Mswati back to Swaziland to address the issues, of which he is the main cause. Mswati is currently in the United States to participate in the United Nations General Assembly.
How the Mswati autocracy operates
Swaziland, which was renamed “Eswatini” by absolute monarch Mswati on his 50th birthday in April 2018, is ruled by the tinkhundla system which is nothing but a royal dictatorship. This system was introduced after the monarch abrogated the 1968 constitution and bestowed all executive, legislative and judicial powers upon the monarch, thereby creating an absolute monarch which would from then rule by decree.
The tinkhundla system has been the direct cause of the impoverishment of the people of Swaziland. The people are barred from criticising the monarch or the monarch’s government. Close to 70 percent of the people of Swaziland survive on less that US2$ a day. Despite this deepening poverty, Mswati splashed about E1 billion (about US$70 million) in April this year to throw a lavish birthday party for himself. The court judgment which arbitrarily postponed the teachers’ strike should therefore be seen in this light.
Following below are pictures and video clip from the SNAT Extra Ordinary Meeting.
|One section of teachers as soon in the morning at the start of the meeting SNAT Extra Ordinary Meeting|
|The tent was too small to accommodate the multitudes of teachers who attended the meeting - SNAT Extra Ordinary Meeting|
|Another large section of the teachers outside who could not find space inside the large tent - SNAT Extra Ordinary Meeting|
|Another section of teachers during the meeting - SNAT Extra Ordinary Meeting|
|One other large section of teachers who had to find space outside as they could not find space in the large tent - SNAT Extra Ordinary Meeting|
|As soon as the meeting ended, teachers burst in revolutionary songs (see video below as well) - SNAT Extra Ordinary Meeting|
|Teachers then invaded the streets of the city of Manzini after their meeting, to give signs of things to come - SNAT Extra Ordinary Meeting|