Caswell Tlali & ’Mantoetse Maama
MASERU — The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party’s youth league has blamed the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) for the strike that left a female student dead at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
Four students were admitted while 10 others were treated as out-patients at St Joseph’s Hospital at Roma following Thursday’s violent clashes that involved NUL students, security guards and the police.
The students were protesting against the NMDS which they accused of delaying their allowances.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, LCD youth league general secretary Selibe Mochoboroane said the NMDS was at the centre of the whole fiasco which has since led to the temporary closure of the university.
He said it was wrong for the NMDS to delay the allowances until students took to the streets.
Mochoboroane dismissed the NMDS’s excuses as not genuine.
“As regards their reason that IFMIS delayed them, it is not convincing,” Mochoboroane said.
“The NMDS’s problem of delaying to pay has always been there even before IFMIS came into operation.
“This answer is not genuine and we are not convinced by it.
“It is not correct that the students have to take to the streets in order for them to be paid.
“We appeal to the staff at the NMDS to serve the country with passion and they should be patriotic.
“We as the ruling party youths say we are not in agreement with the status quo.”
Mochoboroane also took a swipe at the police.
“It has surprised us that among the four hospitalised students three were girls as well as the deceased one,” he said.
“Now the question is: can the police confirm that these four girls were armed with dangerous weapons which triggered the police to protect themselves against them and use guns?
“We, the LCD youth league, say it is wrong that a student died during police operations.”
The NMDS has however insisted that it is not to blame for the delayed payments.
NMDS director Letholetseng Ntsike told a press conference on Friday that there were certain procedures that needed to be followed before issuing money to the students.
She said students were supposed to sign and renew their contracts on specific dates but most of them had not done so.
“On the 21st August we issued the first payment of living and book allowances to the students and the last payment was done on the 16th October,” said Ntsike.
“However, there are some who are still not yet paid due to different reasons.”
She blamed students for giving wrong bank account numbers and delaying to renew their contracts.
“On Wednesday I got a call from the NUL registrar saying there was a letter addressed to the vice chancellor saying students who were staying off campus had been expelled by their landlords,” she said.
“I contacted the PS (principal secretary) to let us do the payments off the system because it takes a long time.”
Ntsike said she was surprised to find students demonstrating outside the NMDS yard on Thursday.
“I told them that we had transferred the money to the bank.”
Ntsike said students were given book and living allowances for the first semester.
“We were in the process of issuing the accommodation fees which go to the university’s account,” she said.
Over the past two weeks students from the Lesotho College of Education and Lerotholi Polytechnic have also demonstrated against the NMDS.
Basotho students in South Africa have also joined the protests after the NMDS delayed paying out their allowances.
Some Basotho students at University of Free State and the Central University of Technology have also been affected by the delays.
Some of them recently returned to Lesotho to protest.