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Collapsing University of Eswatini(UNESWA),an act of government negligence.

Friday, 2nd February, 2024

In a heart-wrenching narrative of decline,the University of Eswatini, formerly UNISWA,has succumbed to a protracted period of financial turmoil and administrative negligence. 

The roots of this catastrophic collapse trace back to 2011 when the Eswatini government, under the Tinkhundla system, ruthlessly slashed subsidies to the University decimated scholarships and allowances by an astounding 60%.

Indeed,the public can pinpoint the University of Eswatini's ominous decline to the drastic cuts in government support in 2011.

Once a bastion of academic excellence, the institution is now grappling with the fallout of financial instability, which has far-reaching consequences.

As the university's financial lifeline was severed, the institution needed help to fulfill its essential financial obligations. 

Staff salaries are delayed,creating a demoralizing environment that pushes talented educators to seek employment elsewhere.This mass exodus of credible and professional academic staff has compromised the institution's educational integrity and left a void threatening the university's foundation.

On another note, the university's physical infrastructure, once a source of pride, is now crumbling under the weight of financial strain.The government's failure to allocate adequate funds has resulted in delayed maintenance, jeopardizing the safety and functionality of campus facilities. 

Lecture halls,laboratories,and student accommodations are all casualties of this neglect, further eroding the educational experience for students.

The visible signs of decay extend beyond the buildings. Shockingly, the university needs help to perform basic tasks like cutting grass, buying stationery, and acquiring essential equipment. These seemingly mundane challenges are symptomatic of a deeper malaise, illustrating the stark reality of an institution in free fall.

Central to this crisis is the glaring lack of prioritization of education by the Eswatini government. The Tinkhundla system, with its decision-making structure, needs to recognize the pivotal role education plays in the country's socio-economic and political development.The consequences are dire, with the university not admitting first-year students in 2023, further exacerbating the erosion of academic vibrancy and opportunity.

Urgent and decisive action is imperative to salvage the University of Eswatini from its current state.To address the immediate financial crisis and stabilize the institution, an immediate cash injection of 1billion Emalangeni is proposed. However, a more comprehensive approach is needed.

A transformative proposal suggests forming the UNESWA Education Crisis Committee, composed of former students,council members,cabinet ministers, business leaders,and students. 

This committee would leverage diverse expertise to develop a turnaround strategy and long-term sustainability plan for the university. The aim is to reposition it as a center of excellence, ensuring its vital role in the nation’s future.

The plea to save the University of Eswatini is not just a call to rescue the educational institution but a call to save the country’s future.Education is the bedrock of societal, economic, and political development, and neglecting the University of Eswatini is threatening the fabric of Eswatini's progress.

The University of Eswatini's importance cannot be overstated. Beyond being a place of learning,it is a catalyst for social mobility, economic growth, and political enlightenment. It shapes the leaders of tomorrow and contributes to the nation's intellectual and cultural wealth.

As we witness the tragic collapse of the University of Eswatini, we must recognize the urgent need for intervention. The proposed solutions,from immediate financial relief to establishing the UNESWA Education Crisis Committee,present a pathway to restoration. Let this serve as a rallying cry to safeguard the future of Eswatini and its commitment to education as the cornerstone of progress.The fate of the University of Eswatini is intertwined with the nation's destiny, and collective action is the key to ensuring a brighter tomorrow.

Maxwell Dlamini ,the author of this article, is the Deputy Secretary General of the People’s United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO),former President of UNISWA’s Students Representative Council(SRC) Former President of the Swaziland National Union of Students(SNUS). All African Students Activists of the Year 2013 winner.

 Collapsing University of Eswatini(UNESWA),an act of government negligence.
UNESWA Chancellor King Mswati and Vice Chancellor Justice Tfwala during a graduation.