7,000 Swazi teachers clash with cops

Mbabane - Swazi police on Wednesday clashed with striking teachers from a banned trade union who are demanding a 4.5% salary hike, as the country's economic crisis shows no sign of abating.

Police tried to prevent the deputy president of the banned Trade Union Congress of Swaziland, Sipho Kunene from addressing about 7 000 teachers, who retaliated by pelting them with stones.

The teachers formed a human shield to keep the police away from a vehicle that Kunene used as a podium to address the crown in the capital Mbabane.

"We long said that we do not care about the economic crisis, we did not cause it but government. We therefore must not be made to pay a price for something we didn't do," union president Sibongile Mazibuko said after the clash.

In April government closed down the union after it planned a series of protests over the country's economic crisis.

Teachers in this impoverished nation ruled by King Mswati III have not had their salaries paid in full as the government battles to finance its massive public wage bill.

About 60% of the Swaziland 1.2 million people live on less than R20 a day.

Mswati has resisted calls to allow democratic reforms and pro-democracy activists had been jailed and routinely harassed by police.

This week the house of opposition leader Mario Masuku was shot by police in what they described as an accident.



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