24 August 2008
TSC’s Zungu summoned
By SIBONGILE SUKATI
MBABANE—The Executive Secretary of the Teaching Service Commission was last Monday summoned to Ludzidzini to explain why teachers were not being granted leave in order to participate in the upcoming elections.
Moses Vusumuzi Zungu had an audience with His Majesty King Mswati III where he explained in detail why teachers were not being allowed to join the parliament race. However, Zungu, when interviewed in his office on Thursday, denied ever being summoned to the royal palace.
"You are mistaken. I did not go to see the king on Monday, maybe it was someone else who looked like me," said Zungu with a coy smile.
The Times SUNDAY has it in authority that the TSC chief was at the palace for the better part of Monday.
Two officers close to the king who preferred anonymity confirmed that Zungu had spoken to the king about the elections issue and teachers not being granted leave of absence. "He further called a staff meeting on Tuesday where he briefed some of his officers about the visit to the king," said an employee of the TSC.
The TSC received over 55 leave of absence applications, but no teacher was granted this leave.
"Firstly, there is a shortage of teachers in some of the schools in the country and therefore granting leave to these people would be suicidal for us," said Zungu.
Zungu added that there are pupils that have to be considered who are in school.
"If we grant these people, leave who will fill up the post and what would happen to the pupils that need an education?" asked Zungu.
It was gathered that Zungu presented the same case to the king and said they did not have a relief facility for people who would be granted leave for five years.
Zungu added that should the parliament hopefuls not make it in the election race they automatically expected their place to be waiting for them on their return.
"We cannot operate like that as people only want to be granted leave to see if they would make it and then come back if they do not, yet there are pupils to consider," said Zungu.
One of the teachers that took the TSC to court is popular gospel singer Mduduzi Simelane who leads the gospel group Mduduzi Nezinceku Zamagawugawu.
However, Simelane’s application was dismissed by the High Court on grounds that it did not have the jurisdiction as this was an employer-employee matter and therefore the Industrial Court was where he could seek relief.
Zungu told this publication that leave is only granted to teachers in selected cases such as maternity and study leave.
"Under these circumstances the TSC has time to look for a replacement for that particular period," said Zungu.
Zungu said as much as he wants all Swazis to participate in the elections there was nothing that he could do to assist the teachers. Section 97 of the Constitution states a person who is a member of the armed forces of Swaziland or is holding or acting in any public office and has not been granted leave of absence for the duration of Parliament is disqualified.
The only option for teachers who are aspiring parliamentarians is to resign from the teaching service.