Mbabane – Following government’s uplifting of the self-imposed hiring freeze, it has been reliably gathered that 700 graduates will be hired.
In 2018 government approved a policy to freeze the hiring of workers for posts in the public service, as a commitment to address a ballooning wage bill. The action was taken by government as a reaction to complaints raised by international funders and policy analysts.
However, a consequence of the hiring freeze was that it created a situation where a lot of job vacancies were left unfilled because of the unavailability of personnel to perform the duties allocated for such posts, affecting the proper functioning of the public service machinery in the process.
Although the figure (700) is still held in high confidentiality, the Independent News Desk has been informed by a credible source that a proposed number has been sent by the Ministry of Education and Training to Cabinet.
“We have sent the numbers to Cabinet for approval and its between 500 and 700.Its a pity that you called me before the meeting where I will be having all the information that you need. Otherwise, we have proposed that these numbers be hired effective January due to the immense human resource needs in schools,” said the source who asked not to be named for now.
He explained that by next week it will be revealed as to how many temporary teachers that will get permanent posts.
Owen Nxumalo, the Minister of Education and Training asked neither denied nor confirmed the figure. He pleaded with this publication not to comment for now.
Mbongwa Dlamini, the President of Swaziland National Teachers’ Association was reached for comment over the highly kept ‘secret.’
“It is a positive start for our government especially the unfreezing of hiring. It was wrong in the first place to treat the education sector the way they did because a lot of teachers are unemployed when there are a lot of teaching vacancies in schools.”
He highlighted that as an Association, they appreciated the number even though there was a higher demand in terms of numbers in schools.
“We also hope and believe that those teachers that are hired temporarily will be given permanent posts because we are against the hiring of teachers contractually.”
When sought for comment in the matter, the Secretary General of the Eswatini Principals Association, Mduduzi Masilela, he stated that any adjustment to the employment of teachers in the country was highly appreciated by the association even though they have not yet heard of the figure.
He continued to state that even though the figure was encouraging, it doesn’t meet the high demand of teachers in schools. “Yes, we welcome the development, but the shortfall is too big, and the number is far below the actual need’’ he said.
He added that several factors were at play leading to the shortfall of educators in schools.
“Some of the mentioned factors is the retirement of educators who are not replaced, the expansion of schools due to addition of curriculums, death and resignation of teachers seeking greener pastures.
Giving a hint to the uplifting of the unfreezing of hiring was Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Public Service Sipho Tsabedze, who was responding to a query by the Independent News.
With regards to the uplifting of the hiring by government, the news was welcome by different contacted supervisors in the government different ministries, who are happy that soon they would be receiving new blood and further getting the opportunity to fill posts which have been vacant since the hiring freeze was imposed five years ago, through the introduction of Circular Number 3. The supervisors noted that the development will improve production since morale has been low across the different government departments since some workers would find themselves being given task which they were not hired to perform.
“I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard about this. Well, the news had already started filtering from the grapevine even before the National Parliamentary Elections. So, when I heard about the lifting of the hiring freeze, I was very happy,” joyfully said one of the interviewed supervisors who preferred anonymity because the issue was still being discussed in high forums. The supervisor said it was expected that the hiring freeze would go because there were already complains about aggrieved civil servants who were taking government to court because of being made to perform duties outside those which they were originally hired to do. He said the number of court disputes were already overwhelming government, which resulted in a directive to stop the practice.