A NATIONAL University of Lesotho (NUL) student recently embarked onto a hunger strike to force the management to address some of the students’ grievances.
Mnikelo Kili, a fifth-year law student spent two days and two nights camping outside the NUL administration block which houses Vice Chancellor Nqosa Mahao’s office.
The strike started on Tuesday the 27th and ended on Thursday the 29th of November.
Mr Kili told this publication that strike was supported by a students’ movement dubbed Visionaries, to which he is a member.
He said the hunger strike was aimed at forcing Prof Mahao and his administration to address an issue that involved alleged mismanagement of funds by the previous students’ representative council on a school trip to Durban in March 2018.
Mr Kili also accused the management of ignoring the SRC’s failure to provide financial statements for their annual subvention budgets.
“The money was supposed to pay for the students’ accommodation and food but that was the opposite when the students got to Durban as there was insufficient food and students slept in the buses which they had travelled in,” Mr Kili said.
“The trip was chaotic. At some point students had to pay for their own food and contributed money to pay for joint accommodation. The students spent the five days of the trip without decent food or shelter without bathing. Most of us uses the unsheltered beach showers to bath.”
He added that on their return from the trip, the students reported their agonies to the management who promised to investigate the matter and bring the culprits to book.
“The Vice Chancellor addressed the students and said he would convene a commission of inquiry to investigate how the money allocated for the Durban trip was used. He said those who were given the responsibility would have to account for the money. He told the students that he would present them with the findings of the inquiry.
“It has been over eight months now and the Vice Chancellor has still not given us the report. We are not show if he ever even attempted to even initiate the investigation into the matter.
“There have not been any audit reports on the use of the students’ money from the SRC. The management seems not to be bothered and nothing is done about it. It is provided by the law that the SRC does the annual financial audits. That has not been the case. This has happened despite the many allegations of mismanagement of students’ funds by the various SRCs,” Mr Kili said.
In a recent statement, Prof Mahao dismissed Mr Kili’s stunts saying it was an attempt to court attention since he is vying for a post in the SRC elections which were scheduled for November but have since been moved to an unconfirmed date due to lack of funds.
“I am of the view that Mnikelo (Mr Kili) is simply campaigning for the forthcoming SRC elections and he wants to raise his profile through the so-called protest. The report indicates that his protest is about lack of accountability on the part of SRCs. For our part, as the university administration, we have long picked that deficiency up. We have stopped transferring students’ union subvention into the SRC bank account because SRCs do not provide audited statements as required by the NUL Act,” Prof Mahao said.
Prof Mahao said the management has no business interfering with the SRCs and their running. He said it was up to the students to ensure that their SRCs are accountable for the money allocated to them.
“If SRCs do not account to the students’ union, we cannot make them account to them. They have their procedures laid out in the students’ union constitution on how to make SRCs account. Lame students want to transfer that responsibility to the university and we cannot accept to do so because we must respect the law as is.
“I sincerely believe that Mnikelo is just staging a show to raise his profile for elections,” said Prof Mahao.
Mr Kili however refuted the assertions and said he is not campaigning for any post in the SRC elections.