Mbabane: The Government of Eswatini and the United Nations (UN) Office in the country have issued contrasting views regarding the immediate direction that must be taken with the education of learners. This is in response to the current unrest situation in which arson attacks on schools, the destruction of public property, and the stoning of motor vehicles by learners has resulted in anarchy throughout the country.
The learners have also been joined by disgruntled public transport operators who have exacerbated the situation by engaging in a violent strike action that is threatening to render the country ungovernable. A variety of demands are being made by both sets of protesters, although their common demand is the release of the two incarcerated Members of Parliament, Hosea’s Mduduzi “Bacede” Mabuza and Ngwempisi’s Mthandeni Dube. They are also calling for the return of fugitive Member of Parliament, Mduduzi “Gawuzela” Simelane.
As a result of this situation the security in Eswatini has become compromised and the government through the Prime Minister, Cleopas Sipho Dlamini has announced that all schools must be closed indefinitely. The Prime Minister said, “As unfortunate as these events have been, and with the view of ensuring children’s safety and their rights to protection, His Majesty’s Government has taken the decision to close schools indefinitely and with immediate effect.”
However, the United Nations in Eswatini who have been monitoring the situation have expressed their concern at the involvement of the youth and school children, and public transport workers, in the protests.
In a statement, the UN said “it wishes to remind all parties that the right to education is one of the most important rights that shape the future of a nation. Children of Eswatini like others around the world have lost precious time as a result of Covid 19. As the pandemic eases, learners must safely return to school and places of learning with the full protection and support of parents, teachers, the Government, and development partners.”
The UN further states that “learners must be assured that schools are safe sanctuaries for learning and developmental growth. As such, the UN encourages all parties to ensure the safe and unimpeded return of learners and teachers to places of learning.”
Prime Minister Dlamini re-asserted that government remains open to all stakeholders to find lasting solutions to the challenges that continue to confront us. However, this has to be done in a peaceful manner and not under incitement and violence.