Swaziland: Teachers demand freeze of King’s assets

published 10 June 2011 updated 15 June 2011

Almost 3,000 teachers in Swaziland have marched to the South African and US embassies to insist on an international asset freeze against the country’s absolute ruler, King Mswati III, alleging corruption and mismanagement of national resources.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy is known for its lavish lifestyle, it spends 21 million euros each year, in a country where unemployment and poverty are widespread. The country is also trying to avoid a fiscal crisis, and teachers fear that Swaziland’s lilangeni currency could be unpegged from the South African Rand.

In the past month there have been announcements of a possible national salary freeze which has led to teachers and other pro-democracy protesters taking to the streets to demand inclusive reforms.

EI’s affiliate member, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), has launched a formal petition to asking the international community to “identify and freeze assets owned by the ruling elite and invested in the US, resulting from their looting over the years.”

Pro-democracy protesters have petitioned the South African embassy for assurances on the currency peg, and asked President Jacob Zuma to intervene in helping Swaziland becoming a multi-party democratic state.

On 14 April protesters were violently dispersed by the riot police but this time demonstrators managed to avoid police attention by arriving unexpectedly in small groups.

During the teachers’ march, SNAT President, Sibongile Mazibuko, stated: “We are saying as Swazis it is enough! We are in a bus that is burning and we are kicking out the emergency window."

EI stands in solidarity with Swazi teachers and calls on the country’s authorities to ensure good governance and proper financing of quality public education for all.