THE National University of Lesotho’s (NUL) Student Representative Council (SRC) has demanded SADC Facilitator to Lesotho Cyril Ramaphosa’s resignation, accusing the South African vice-president of being compromised by “business interests” in Lesotho.
In a wide-ranging and hard hitting letter addressed to the regional bloc’s Oversight Committee, the NUL SRC also accuse the government of maladministration, calling on the seven-party coalition to throw in the towel.
Dated 27 January 2017, the letter was signed by SRC President Tšepo Makakane and Secretary-General Thato Ponya. It was submitted to the SADC Oversight Committee which is currently conducting consultations with various stakeholders in Lesotho since its return to Maseru on Monday last week.
The Oversight Committee was established by an Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Double Troika held on 3 July 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa with a brief to “intervene as appropriate in consultation with Mr Ramaphosa”.
Led by retired Tanzanian judge, Justice Frederic Mwita Werema, the 10-member Oversight Committee was established with a mandate of being an early warning mechanism for Lesotho’s instability and to monitor the implementation of SADC decisions regarding the political and security situation in the country. The committee was also tasked with providing assistance in the implementation of constitutional, security and public sector reforms in Lesotho.
However, the students accuse Mr Ramaphosa of being “reluctant” to solve the problems bedeviling Lesotho, adding that “some stakeholders had “lost confidence and trust in him”.
The students further accuse the South African deputy president of having vested interests in a controversial vehicle fleet tender the government awarded to Bidvest Bank Limited.
“Is there any third force behind Lesotho’s problems? It is believed that Mr Ramaphosa is pushing his business agenda with the Bidvest here in Lesotho, as most Basotho believe that Mr Ramaphosa played a very prominent role in ensuring that Bidvest gets the government fleet tender under the very dubious conditions in 2016,” reads part of the letter.
Turning to government, the students accuse the seven-party alliance of prioritizing the Bidvest deal at the expense of their academic bursaries.
“We stand to suffer the most as currently students who depend on the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) bursaries are not sponsored in the middle of their education programmes despite them having passed in their academic years.
“This we are told that government has no money to fund education. It appears there is only money for Bidvest and elections as for our future and right to education there is no money.”
Adds the letter: “We trust the above concerns can be best dealt with by your esteemed entity and also be given attention of the highest standard. We opine that this country is under siege by a few individuals who clearly seek to protect their interests which adversely affect students’ right to education by all means.”
Among others, the letter is copied to Southern African Students Union, All Africa Students Union, SADC, African Union, United Nations, Embassy of the United States of America, European Union, Southern Africa Litigation Centre, African National Congress and Economic Freedom Fighters.
Efforts to secure comments from Mr Ramaphosa and the government were unsuccessful as their spokespersons’ phones were unreachable.
Mr Ponya confirmed writing the letter.