The growing financial crisis in Africa’s only absolute monarchy, Swaziland, is costing Swazi Wits students their education.

About 90 percent of Swazi students at Wits are being sponsored by the government according to the chairman of the Swaziland Students’ Society, Mcondisi Dlamini.

Dlamini said he was handling complaints from several Swazi students who were concerned about their funding which has not been a problem in past years.

None of the Swazi students on scholarship has had any of their study material or allowance money paid to them since they started classes this year.

The Swazi government is committed to paying for tuition, accommodation, study material and a food allowance for students on scholarship.

“Whatever decisions are made that side in Swaziland affects students in such a bad way … they’ve been here since February, some January [medical students], and they haven’t gotten anything up to this point,” Dlamini said. He said he started classes in January and because he hasn’t received his allowance, he hasn’t been able to buy “a single book”.

Dlamini felt government funding went beyond paying their fees. By not giving them money to buy books, they were sending the message that it is “ok for them to fail”. In effect this would not benefit the already struggling economy as the money previously paid towards their fees would be “wasted”.

According to a Wits economist the financial crisis can be attributed to reduced revenue from imports and exports. Christopher Malikane said Swaziland “survives on import duties”. He said the country has no diversified economy and its tax base is small.

 Published in Vuvuzela Print Edition, 13 April 2012