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NUL students expected to end strike

 

’Mantoetse Maama

The situation at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) is expected to return to normal tomorrow after students boycotted classes and picketed on campus last week, over delayed allowances.

NUL students boycotted classes and picketed on campus last week.
NUL students boycotted classes and picketed on campus last week.

According to the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) President, Lefu Thaela, the learners had been angered by the slow pace of disbursement of their allowances by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS), which they had hoped would have been completed by 18 August.

Mr Thaela further said classes were expected to resume tomorrow as the students had been promised they would have received their monies by end of day today.

According to Mr Thaela, the previous SRC had compounded the problem by allegedly communicating “incorrect” information regarding the allowances.

“Members of the previous SRC posted a notice around campus claiming that there was going to be a meeting for all the students on Friday last week (August 16). They used an SRC stamp we had reported stolen to the police, to communicate this message, and it was at this meeting that they told the students that the allowances would have been deposited into their accounts by 18 August.

“The former SRC members did this intentionally knowing that if the allowances were not available by this date, there would be chaos at the university, which is exactly what has happened. The students started boycotting classes on Monday and picketing on campus, resulting in the destruction of property and injury to some of the learners,” he said.

Mr Thaela further said his SRC subsequently held a meeting with the students on Tuesday, after getting an assurance from the NMDS that the allowances would start being deposited into the learners’ bank accounts that day.

“And as promised by the NMDS, 1200 students received their allowances on Tuesday, and we were told the money would be coming in batches, until everyone had been paid. The following day, 150 more students received their allowances, and 50 more got their monies later that day. But this did not go down well with the students who believed the pace was too slow.

“We then had a meeting with NMDS officials as we were also concerned about the pace at which the money was being disbursed. The NMDS promised to speed-up the process, but from that day, Thursday, there was no progress, which angered the students further, resulting in more picketing and violence.

“During the protests, NUL property was destroyed and some students were injured as they fought each other because some had decided to continue with their studies or simply stay in the rooms,” he added.

Mr Thaela said by Friday, the students had started getting their monies again, and was hoping by tomorrow, everyone would have received the allowances and the situation returned to normal at the university.

Contacted for comment, the NUL Acting Registrar, Masefinela Mphuthing, referred the Sunday Express to a circular she issued on Friday, regarding the students’ actions.

Part of the circular reads: “You are aware that the students embarked on an illegal strike about two days ago because of allowances. However, they were warned to desist from participating in these unacceptable actions and encouraged to continue attending classes, while the NMDS, with the assistance of the NUL management, continued to solve the problem of the disbursement of the allowances.

“The management and SRC also addressed the students on this issue. But despite these efforts, students have continued with their strike actions which have resulted in the disruption of classes, injury of some first-year students and throwing away of their food, destruction of university property and that of the building contractor on campus.

“It is expected that classes will resume on Monday, and the university will take strong action to ensure that these illegal actions are stopped forthwith.”

Meanwhile, the NMDS spokesperson, Moeketsi Rankhone, yesterday said he was not in a position to comment on the issue because the NUL had not communicated the students’ concerns.

“The university has not said anything regarding the issue, so we cannot comment about it,” he said.

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