Swazi students clash with police

2012-01-30 19:19

Mbabane - Police in Swaziland fired teargas on Monday at students protesting their university's failure to open for the semester, injuring several people, a student leader said.

Police arrested at least four demonstrators after students of the University of Swaziland vowed to occupy the labour ministry and clashed with peers from a teachers college who refused to join their protest.

The financial woes facing Swaziland's only university have turned political as King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarch, faces calls for democratic reforms sparked by a financial crisis that has seen his government almost run out of cash.

"Students found that the source of their problems... is the way the country is governed. We have agreed to dismantle the way this country is governed as a matter of urgent priority," student leader Xolile Mdluli told AFP.

Mdluli said students had resolved to occupy the labour ministry from Tuesday and disrupt classes at post-secondary institutions.

After the meeting in central city Manzini, students swarmed the campus of the William Pitcher Teachers College, leading to a brief scuffle as the teachers college students stoned their university counterparts.

The university announced last week it would not be able to open on Tuesday as scheduled, the second time in two semesters it has postponed its opening.

It needs €2.1m a month for administrative, maintenance and salary costs and has struggled to stay afloat this academic year.

It has not released results of first-semester exams taken in December, and first-year students have not received their allowances from the government.

The university has three campuses and a combined student population of about 7 000.

Read more on:    king mswati iii  |  swaziland  |  southern africa
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