…students also walk out of Netherlands Hall in protest over DC deputy leader’s failure to respond to questions pertaining to the university
Rowdy students forced Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader, Monyane Moleleki, to prematurely end presenting his party’s policies to the National University of Lesotho (NUL) community on Thursday.
Mr Moleleki was at the university’s Netherlands Hall after being invited to present the DC’s policies to the NUL community ahead of next month’s snap elections.
NUL has invited DC, All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) representatives to “present and engage the university community on their policies” before the 28 February parliamentary poll.
“Since the General Elections also fall in the year that the National University of Lesotho will be celebrating 70 years of its foundation as the premier institution of higher learning in Lesotho, the University community is anxious to hear and engage parties on their planned policies for this important national patrimony. NUL hopes this will form part of the addresses of the parties,” the university noted in its invitation to the four parties.
According to the schedule, the DC was the first to make its presentation, followed by the ABC, LCD and BNP on 27 January, 28 January and 3 February, respectively. The elections are scheduled for 28 February with 23 political parties taking part. A total of 1,216,021 people have been registered to cast their ballot in this early election, which was prompted by the collapse of the ABC, LCD and BNP alliance last year, rendering the coalition government dysfunctional.
However, as Mr Moleleki was articulating the DC vision, there were several interjections by the audience annoyed by his apparent failure to give “clear” responses to their questions.
Some of the students, most of them from the Lesotho Students Convention (LESCO)—an association of ABC and BNP youths—then started filing out of Netherlands Hall in protest, while those who remained seated booed him and continually disrupted his speech.
Once outside the hall, the students started singing songs denouncing the DC.
In addition to Mr Moleleki’s alleged failure to respond to their questions, the students had also been angered by the Public Address system, which made the DC deputy leader barely audible.
After the situation continued to deteriorate, NUL vice-chancellor, Professor Nqosa Mahao, had to intervene and call the students to order.
“If you think you are doing your parties a favour by this disruption, you are very mistaken. And we cannot tolerate such behaviour here at the National University of Lesotho,” Professor Mahao thundered.
“The message you are sending is that other leaders would not be listened to and they are going to think hard before making a decision whether they should come here or not.”
Professor Mahao then thanked Mr Moleleki and the DC delegates for coming to the university for the address, adding such a setting provided by NUL gave a chance for engagement as opposed to political rallies.
In his remarks, Mr Moleleki urged the students to engage him on national issues and not disrupt his responses.
“Even if we do not agree, let’s engage one another in a civilised manner. I would also like to appeal for a better public address system so that my counterparts who are going to come here after me will be able to address this community properly,” he said.
Asked about the NUL mayhem, LESCO president, Leepo Mabusa said: “We decided to walk out and sing just outside the hall as Ntate Moleleki was failing to respond to questions from both the lecturers and students. He actually killed his own presentation by telling us he would not respond to questions about the fate of the university, but only the ABC.
“He also failed to tell us how the DC intends to develop NUL when the university was not even included in the party’s manifesto.
“He kept comparing NUL to South African universities, but when asked by one lecturer if he knew that those universities are funded privately while NUL wholly depends on government, the man could not respond to those questions.”