'Chase up loans to stop unrest'

December 8, 2006

Business leaders in Swaziland are calling on the Government to pursue the repayment of student loans from graduates to fund bursaries for new students and prevent more unrest.

Lindiwe Dlamini, an alumna of the University of Swaziland and spokeswoman for Swazi Posts and Telecommunications, said firms were pressing for collection of the 289 million emalangeni (£21 million) owed by graduates.

"I paid back my bursary loan. I recall that, at that time, there was a compelling reason for us to pay back the loan or one wouldn't be given a position in a Swazi company," Ms Dlamini said.

Clashes between police and students in the Swazi capital, Mbabane, erupted in September after students delivered a petition to Elijah Shongwe, who was acting Education Minister, over his failure to pay allowances and bursaries.

Students marched to the Prime Minister's office to deliver a copy of the petition. Police officers claiming that this was a deliberate act of provocation in breach of a demonstration order, drove students away from government buildings. Students retaliated by throwing rocks and stones.

Students from the University of Swaziland, William Pitcher Teacher's College and Swaziland College of Technology boycotted classes to protest against continuing funding problems.

The Swaziland National Association of Teachers called for the sacking of Constance Simelane, the new Education Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.

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