MBABANE: Education Minister Lady-Howard Mabuza and other members of the Eswatini Principal Association (EPA) will soon be expelled as members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) as the tension between the two organizations intensify.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News has uncovered that the Education Minister, despite holding a powerful political position has been a member of SNAT thus eligible to benefit from the organization through loans and other benefits, she is a former Headteacher at Malunge High School.
Speaking to this Swaziland News, Sikelela Dlamini, the SNAT Secretary confirmed the matter saying as the Executive Committee, they reached a consensus to terminate the membership of the Minister and other Headteachers who allegedly collude with government in frustrating ordinary teachers in the various schools.
“We have noted that Headteachers including the Minister who are SNAT members continue to frustrate our community being the ordinary teachers through the Eswatini Principals Associations. It cannot be right for the Minister and the Principals to continue benefiting from SNAT Cooperative through loans while conspiring with government to dismantle the organization hence the decision to terminate their membership” said the SNAT Secretary General.
But Lady-Howard Mabuza, the Education Minister when reached for comments by this Swaziland News said she actually expect a refund from SNAT for deducting subscriptions from her salary despite that she long indicated her desire to quit the organization.
“I wrote them a letter way back in 2012 and 2014, asking them to cancel my membership but in vain. I even asked the Secretary General to make a follow-up last year but still no avail. I’m paying subscription for both SNAT and EPA because of their failure to deregister me” said the Minister.
Reached for comments, Lucky Lukhele, the Spokesperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said the Education Minister was actually conflicted by virtue of holding a powerful position that takes decision impacting SNAT.
“Once you are in a position of power, either Ministerial or any position, you can’t be a member of a union. You need to voluntarily resign without being forced, it’s a known principle. I may not have the Constitution of SNAT but what I am saying is what is expected from any person holding such position” said the SSN Spokesperson.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News suggests that the tension between SNAT and Headteachers, particularly the Minister erupted after teachers complained that they were being illtreated by Principals within the various schools. Indeed, this publication further uncovered that some teachers were subjected to no-work, no-pay for exercising their right to engage in a strike action after headteachers submitted their names to the Ministry of Education for salary deductions.
“They collude with government particularly the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) to victimize us as teachers. The truth of the matter is that being headteachers does not make them our employers, they are employees just like us. But the way they treat us suggests that they want to please government at our expense by suppressing our right to protest and engage on strike” said a teacher who spoke anonymously to this publication.
But Welcome Mhlanga, the President of the Eswatini Principals Associations (EPA), when responding to questions from this publication said it was very unfortunate that SNAT now wants to expel their members even from the Cooperatives.
“I don’t understand why SNAT wants to expel our members from the Cooperatives because everyone should be free to join, even those who are not teachers or members of the organization” he said.
When asked to clarify the allegations suggesting that illtreat teachers, the EPA President denied these allegations but clarified that in most instances they merely enforce rules imposed to them by the government.
“Actually, I don’t know where the allegations that we illtreat teachers came from because in most instances, particularly during strikes, government give us forms to register those who are present at work. Under such situations, there is nothing we can do because we can be in trouble for defying the employer” said the EPA President.
Education Minister Lady Howard-Mabuza