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By Sabelo Mamba - SWAZI OBSERVER-23-Jan-2010

The High Court on Friday dismissed an application brought by the ex-miners association, which was seeking an order forcing government to make free primary education in public schools for every Swazi child in terms of the Constitution.

Recently appointed Judge Justice Bheki Maphalala said it was evident that government was not ready to implement free primary education in all grades.

He said it had not been proved that after the advent of the constitution in 2005, new schools and additional classrooms have been built to accommodate the influx of Swazi children intending to benefit from the right to free primary education. The judge said, secondly, no evidence had been advanced to prove that additional new teachers have been employed as well as teachers’ houses built to accommodate them.

Justice Maphalala observed that no evidence had been adduced to prove that government have in their possession and custody sufficient books, stationery, furniture, equipment and other teaching material for all the children.

“Fourth, no evidence has been adduced to prove that the respondent (government) has budgeted for this programme,” he stated. “It is clear that the implementation of the right to free primary education cannot be finalised overnight. A lot of funds are needed to make this right realisable. “The political will to implement the right on its own without the availability of resources is not enough. “The respondent has put in place the Implementation Plan of 2009, which is a detailed programme on how they intend to comply with their constitutional obligation in terms of Section 26 (9) of the Constitution; according to that programme, the implementation of free primary education will be staggered in accordance with the declaratory nature of this court’s judgment of the 16th March, 2009.”

He said the steps taken by government were in the circumstances reasonable and satisfactory in view of the limited resources at its disposal. The judgment noted that government shown a political will to comply with the constitutional provisions. “To hold the government accountable for reneging and abdicating its constitutional obligation to provide free primary education, the applicant has to prove on a balance of probabilities that the resources for doing so are available at the disposal of government, but the government does not want to utilise them,” he said.

The judge said the ex-miners had not proved that the resources were indeed available.

The ex-miners were represented by attorney Thulani Maseko while Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini defended government. Minister of Education Wilson Ntshangase was cited as first respondent and the Prime Minister, Dr. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, as second respondent.

Readers Comments :

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Comments:Developing countries should emulate from such realism in Swaziland. this article is very practical and transparent.

From:Patrick Irungu Mbutha - Kenya (08-Feb-2010)

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