Chaos at NUL

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah Kabi and Mo­halenyane Phakela

THE long drawn out strike by Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho (NUL) stu­dents over de­layed al­lowances by the Na­tional Man­power De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tar­iat (NMDS) yes­ter­day seemed to be abat­ing af­ter some stu­dents were given the stipend.

NUL Stu­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil (SRC) Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Thato Ponya last night told the Le­sotho Times some stu­dents had re­ceived their al­lowances af­ter sev­eral meet­ings be­tween the univer­sity’s man­age­ment and NMDS of­fi­cials.

“As things stand, we have been promised all the al­lowances will be paid up by Fri­day. Some stu­dents have al­ready re­ceived their al­lowances this evening,” Mr Ponya said, adding they would only re­sume classes next Mon­day if all al­lowances “were paid by to­mor­row (to­day) as promised”.

He said they were also lob­by­ing for the in­clu­sion of 200 first-year stu­dents in the list of NUL stu­dents spon­sored by the sec­re­tar­iat.

“If the govern­ment doesn’t re­solve this is­sue by next Wed­nes­day, we will sus­pend classes again,” said Mr Ponya.

He said three peo­ple were in­jured in skir­mishes be­tween the po­lice and the stu­dents that brought the in­sti­tu­tion to a stand­still. The stu­dents had planned to protest at the NMDS of­fices in Maseru on Mon­day over the de­layed al­lowances but were stopped in their tracks by the po­lice. Mr Ponya said they had in­formed the NUL Vice-chan­cel­lor’s of­fice stu­dents would not at­tend classes un­til their al­lowances were paid 24 hours be­fore the protest as stip­u­lated by the univer­sity by-laws.

The SRC had hired eight buses to ferry the stu­dents to Maseru. How­ever, the po­lice turned the buses back as they were ap­proach­ing the city centre ar­gu­ing the planned protest was il­le­gal since the stu­dents had not sought per­mis­sion.

Af­ter re­turn­ing to the cam­pus, the an­i­mated stu­dents con­tin­ued with their protests out­side the in­sti­tu­tion’s en­trance by throw­ing stones on the road and burn­ing tyres.

On Tues­day, the stu­dents de­cided to walk to the NMDS of­fices and were again in­ter­cepted by the po­lice who or­dered them to re­turn to the univer­sity.

“As we were trav­el­ling from Roma to the cap­i­tal city, we met by heav­ily-armed po­lice of­fi­cers at St Michaels who or­dered us to re­turn to Roma,” Mr Ponya said on Tues­day.

“We were shocked when the po­lice told us they had been in­structed to stop crime by or­der­ing us to re­turn to Roma. When we re­fused, they started at­tack­ing us, in­jur­ing stu­dents.”

SRC Pres­i­dent Mo­japela Tl­ha­beli also ac­cused the po­lice of “bru­tally as­sault­ing” stu­dents.

“It is true the po­lice were look­ing for stu­dents at their homes and bru­tally as­sault­ing them. I can only con­firm they at­tacked those liv­ing off cam­pus and am not sure if they made way into the cam­pus for those liv­ing in­side,” he said.

How­ever, po­lice spokesper­son Su­per­in­ten­dent Clif­ford Molefe de­nied al­le­ga­tions they bru­tally as­saulted the stu­dents.

“It is not true that we tor­tured or shot at the stu­dents. What hap­pened is that af­ter 30 min­utes of urg­ing the stu­dents to re­turn to Roma, the po­lice used smoke on them which is not in­tox­i­cat­ing and they ran from back to Roma,” Su­per­in­ten­dent Molefe said.

He said dur­ing the melee, a fe­male stu­dent fell down and was rushed by the po­lice to Queen Mamo­hato Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal. Su­per­in­ten­dent Molefe said the stu­dent was treated as an out­pa­tient, with the doc­tors telling the po­lice the stu­dent was a known epilepsy pa­tient. He added that the fe­male stu­dent was driven back to Roma by the po­lice.

“We also in­structed the stu­dents who bar­ri­caded the univer­sity’s en­trance to re­move the stones. Ac­cord­ing to the 2010 Meet­ings and Pro­ces­sions Act, the stu­dents’ planned protest was il­le­gal and that is why we in­ter­vened.

“They ought to have asked for per­mis­sion seven days prior to the protest or 48 hours be­fore if they felt this was an ur­gent mat­ter,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent Molefe.

“How­ever, even if they did, that wasn’t go­ing to au­to­mat­i­cally get them a per­mit as it is the dis­cre­tion of the po­lice to de­ter­mine the ur­gency.

“Had they fol­lowed this route, we wouldn’t have prob­lems with them, this is a free coun­try and peo­ple are al­lowed to ex­er­cise their con­sti­tu­tional right of free­dom of move­ment.”

Mean­while, De­vel­op­ment Plan­ning Min­is­ter Mokoto Hloaele has said the govern­ment does not have enough money to pay out all the ter­tiary stu­dents NMDS al­lowances.

In his re­marks on Le­sotho Tele­vi­sion this past week, Mr Hloaele said there had been a short­fall for some years, forc­ing the govern­ment to re­duce the num­ber of spon­sored stu­dents.

“The num­ber of higher learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions’ stu­dents seek­ing spon­sor­ship from the NMDS dras­ti­cally in­creased over the years,” Mr Hloaele said.

“The govern­ment does not have enough money to spon­sor ev­ery Mosotho seek­ing to ad­vance their ed­u­ca­tional ca­reers at the higher learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions.”

He said due to the lack of fund­ing, the NMDS had to in­form each ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion on the num­ber of stu­dents el­i­gi­ble for spon­sor­ship.

“Af­ter this, each in­sti­tu­tion sends the NMDS a list of ad­mit­ted stu­dents, and af­ter be­ing scru­ti­nised by the coun­cil the lists are sub­mit­ted to the De­vel­op­ment Plan­ning min­is­ter.

“Once the min­is­ter ac­cepts this rec­om­men­da­tion, the sec­re­tar­iat makes an an­nounce­ment in­form­ing stu­dents to re­port to the NMDS of­fices and sign con­tracts.

“When the time for sign­ing con­tracts ends, the sec­re­tar­iat goes through the list and if any gaps need to be filled, they will call those on the wait­ing lists to come and sign con­tracts.”

He added: “There­fore, the num­ber of stu­dents who are not go­ing to be spon­sored by the sec­re­tar­iat is not yet known, so are the is­sues of stu­dents’ al­lowances which will be an­nounced pub­licly by the NMDS at a later stage.”

Mean­while, NUL this week is­sued a state­ment dis­tanc­ing the univer­sity’s man­age­ment from the protests.

“The public should know that the Univer­sity has noth­ing to do with the stu­dents’ ef­forts to visit NMDS . . . We have made it clear to the SRC that should any lec­tures be dis­rupted by stu­dents, the SRC will be held re­spon­si­ble,” read part of the state­ment.

“The public must also ap­pre­ci­ate that the un­rea­son­ably long drawn pro­cesses at NMDS of set­tling stu­dents’ al­lowances is in­flict­ing suf­fer­ing to stu­dents. We re­gret that this de­lay goes way be­yond stan­dard prac­tice and the pro­to­col cur­rently in place. We urge NMDS to ex­pe­dite its pro­cesses and to ful­fil its con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions with stu­dents for the sake of a con­ducive learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

THE road was blocked with stones in Roma by strik­ing NUL stu­dents over de­layed al­lowances by the Na­tional Man­power De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tar­iat.

Strick­ing NUL stu­dents

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.