MASERU — Half a million maloti!
That’s how much the cash-strapped National University of Lesotho (NUL) budgeted to spend on the recruitment process for its new vice chancellor, according to confidential documents seen by the Sunday Express this week.
In the meantime the university is paying salaries from a bank overdraft because it is broke.
It has also cranked up a budget deficit that now runs into millions of maloti because it is spending way more than it can afford.
The NUL management has told lecturers and researchers, currently on an indefinite strike, that there is no way the university can meet their salary demands because it has a serious financial crisis.
The infrastructure at the college is falling apart and the library is virtually empty.
But that financial squeeze did not stop the university from budgeting to spend M613 374 during its hunt for someone to replace the late vice chancellor, Adelani Ogunrinade, who died in April this year.
Most of the money was budgeted to go towards travel, accommodation and meals for the four candidates who had been shortlisted from the initial 14 applicants.
Professor Sharon Siverts, the former vice chancellor of the University of Botswana who is now tipped to land the top NUL job, had to be flown from America.
Professor Jill Slay, another applicant who is said to have impressed the recruitment panel, was to be flown from her base in Australia.
Professor Lebohang Moleko, a NUL alumnus, was to come from his Eritrean base.
Former NUL acting vice chancellor Mafa Sejanamane is based at NUL’s Roma campus so the university did not have to incur a huge travel cost to get him to the interview.
On air tickets alone NUL planned to spend M60 000.
According to the budget when they arrived in Maseru the candidates were to be put in a hotel for four days at a cost of M12 800.
Their lunch and dinner meals during those four days were planned to cost the struggling college another M8 000 at M250 a meal.
Two cars were to be hired for their transport at a cost of M10 000, according to the budget.
The budget also had a provision of M10 000 for a shuttle taxi to transport the candidates between NUL, Maseru and the airport.
That also included another item called “reception at airport”.
The transport and accommodation for the experts hired from the University of Free State to conduct psychometric tests on the candidates was to take another M10 300.
The test itself would cost the college M36 000, according to the budget.
Each of the people who sat on the recruitment panel was to be paid an allowance of M800 a day.
That brought the bill for the nine days they were working on the recruitment to a whopping M64 800.
But then a chairperson was needed for the oral presentation that the interviewees had to make as part of the selection process.
That person was to be paid an honorarium of M1 500 for the few hours he or she spent chairing those four presentations.
That’s excluding the M245 fuel bill that the university would pick up for that person to come to Roma.
A PA system was to be hired for M3 600.
The university also put aside M300 000 just in case there was need to buy the successful candidate out of his or her current contract with another institution.
Nothing was left to chance because the budget also set aside another M102 229 for what it called “contingencies”.
This is money earmarked for unforeseen emergencies.
It is however possible that the university did not spend as much as it had budgeted because Sejanamane, one of the shortlisted candidates, did not need to fly as he is based in Maseru.
It is however not clear if he stayed in a hotel during the interview days.
As for the M102 229 for “contingencies”, only a final audit will reveal how exactly it was spent.