Swaziland's university needs $11 million to re-open

AFP , Thursday 11 Aug 2011

The economic crisis has hit the South African country of Swaziland hard, forcing its only university to shut down due to insufficient funding

Swaziland's only university, closed this week as the kingdom battles unprecedented financial woes, needs $11 million to resume classes, the education minister said Thursday.

The University of Swaziland failed to open for the academic year as an economic crisis batters the tiny southern African country, which was given a $355-million bailout loan from South Africa this month to stave off collapse.

"The university needs about 79.9 million emalangeni ($10.9 million, 7.6 million euros) in order to start operating this new academic year," Education Minister Wilson Ntshangase told journalists.

The university has about 5,200 students spread across three campuses.

The Swazi economy is suffering after a 60-percent drop last year in revenues from a regional customs union, the government's main source of income.

The cash-strapped nation led by King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarch, is struggling to pay public workers and meet its health care needs.

Swazi dissidents pushing for more freedoms in the tightly controlled country criticised South Africa for the loan, but Pretoria said it was on condition that Mswati opens talks on reforms.

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