MASERU — The president of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) has been suspended.
Caston Thahanyane was booted out two weeks ago by his SRC colleagues for allegedly making arbitrary decisions and breaching the constitution.
The council voted unanimously to push him out.
SRC secretary general Refiloe Phakoe confirmed yesterday that Thahanyane had been pushed out.
“We suspended him last week because he was making important decisions without consulting us,” Phakoe said.
“He was also breaching our constitution. He was not following the constitution of the council so we decided that he must leave.”
But Thahanyane is not leaving without a fight.
Phakoe told the Sunday Express that Thahanyane had since approached the courts seeking an order for reinstatement.
“He went to court last week to seek an order but we are not aware if the order was ever granted,” he said.
“We have told him that he must bring the order to prove that the courts have ruled that he must be reinstated.”
The Sunday Express understands that Thahanyane’s downfall started three weeks ago when students raised questions about the authenticity of the audit statement he had produced for the 2008 financial year.
The SRC relies on subscriptions from students and a grant from the university.
It also gets rentals for its building at the university.
Thahanyane is understood to have produced reports from two audit firms which he claimed had audited the same SRC accounts.
During the meeting held three weeks ago Thahanyane produced an audit report that did not have a letterhead to prove that the accounts were done by a duly registered firm.
Auditors are supposed to be registered with the Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA).
The Sunday Express is in possession of the two reports.
Thahanyane first produced a report which raised questions among the students because it did not have a letterhead.
That first report is dated July 18 while the second one which he produced after the students protested is dated July 22.
Investigations have also revealed that the landline numbers on the first report do not belong to an audit firm but a butchery at Thamae shopping centre.
“This is not an accounting firm. We do accounts. We sell meat. We are a butchery,” said a man who answered the phone given on the report.
Investigations have also revealed that the person who answers the mobile phone number on the report and claims to be the one who audited the books is not a registered auditor.
His company does not appear on the LIA’s list of registered accounting and auditing firms.
LIA officials said even at the time the author of the SRC audit (name supplied) was registered he was not allowed to do audit reports.
They also alleged that he was not a member in good standing.
The LIA has strict standards and qualifications for its professionals.
When contacted for a comment, the “auditor” confirmed that he had written the report but said he was only helping the SRC.
“They came to me and I thought their accounts were a true reflection of the state of their books,” he said.
“It was social work rather than professional. I was doing it as a parent and not as a professional. I was only helping my kids.
“The SRC is not a big institution that requires complicated accounting. There is nothing complicated about their operations.
“The money they handle is not even worth pocket money for 100 students.”
Earlier the “auditor” had claimed that he had done the cover letter only.
However, the audit report reads otherwise.
It says: “We have audited the ‘income statement’ of the Students Representative Council of the National University of Lesotho for the year ended 31st May.”
Sources said after the students queried the report Thahanyane then produced another one that had a genuine stamp and on a letterhead.
Officials at the company confirmed that they had done the report.
This second report was only given to a few students who remained in the hall when others had walked out.
Phakoe said he was not aware of the two reports.
“In fact, I did not know that Thahanyane had two reports for the same financial year. I only saw one and I thought it was genuine,” he said.
“But now that we know, we are going to investigate and get to the bottom on the matter.”
Yet it is not only the authenticity of the reports that is worrying the students.
Students are worried about the fact that the accounts were prepared by Thahanyane himself.
In the notices he is identified as the chief accountant and the president.
“We don’t understand how he could have audited himself,” said a student who attended the meeting.
“Even then he knows nothing about accounts because he is studying philosophy.”
The figures in the statement have also raised questions among the students.
There are some numbers in the statement that students say look curiously huge.
For instance, the cost of the SRC’s “election and voter education” for 2008 increased by more that 60 percent.
According to the 2007 accounts this operation cost M35 680 but for 2008 the figure leapt to a massive to M62 650.
Students say the figure increased despite the fact that there was nothing materially different between the 2007 and 2008 elections.
In fact, the polling stations for 2008 were less than those for 2007.
The statement shows that per diem allowances gobbled M48 274 while Students Club Activities took M50 373.
An item classified as “Students Union Expenses” took a staggering M82 206.
The union leaders also used M4 185 for what the statement called “Food Allowances”.
The leaders also gave themselves allowances to the tune of M26 085 which the statement classifies as “SRC per diem”.
Although the author of the first questionable audit said he did not get any payment for the job, the statement says the SRC used M6 000 in “accounting fees”.
In total the SRC had a revenue of M379 450 for 2008 but at the close of the financial year the council was actually in the red to the tune of M8 363.