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Students, college clash over venue

Caswell Tlali

MASERU — Students at the Lesotho Co-operatives College boycotted classes on Friday complaining that the rector booked the school’s sporting facilities for the Moafrika Cultural Festival on a date they had scheduled for their interuniversity games.

Students complained that the rector, ’Malijane Kaloko, was aware that on March 10 -13 the college would host the interuniversity games but she decided to book the facilities for the Moafrika Cultural Festival on the same dates.

What angered the students more were allegations that Moafrika FM owner, Ratabane Ramainoane’s political connections had influenced Kaloko’s decision.

Students who spoke to the Sunday Express on condition of anonymity said Kaloko announced at a meeting with the Student Representative Council (SRC) on Thursday that she had been instructed by the trade ministry principal secretary to book the grounds for Moafrika Cultural Festival.

The trade ministry runs the co-operatives’ college.

The students said the SRC was told that Ramainoane went to Trade Minister Leketekete Ketso’s office and also met principal secretary Teleko Ramots’oari who allegedly instructed Kaloko to avail the school grounds for the festival.

They said Kaloko also told them that Ramainoane came to her office accompanied by a man who introduced himself as a Member of Parliament.

The SRC spokesman, Seitlheko Mokhethi, confirmed that Kaloko said she was instructed by her bosses to book the playing facilities for Moafrika Cultural Festival.

“The director told the SRC that she had been instructed by her superiors to give the grounds to Moafrika,” Mokhethi said.

The SRC on Friday went to the commissioner of co-operatives, ’Maphamoli Lekoetje, who is Kaloko’s immediate boss, to complain.

Mokhethi said the SRC wanted Lekoetje to order Kaloko to reverse her decision.

Lekoetje told the Sunday Express that she too was given an impression that Ramots’oari had ordered Kaloko to ignore the students’ booking and give preference to the Moafrika Cultural Festival.

She however said her investigations had revealed that Ramots’oari had nothing to do with Kakolo’s decision.

“However my investigations have revealed that there was no such instruction from the principal secretary,” Lekoetje said.

“We are yet to hold a meeting with the college management to reach a solution to this problem,” she said.

Ramots’oari denied that he had instructed Kaloko to book the college facilities for the Moafrika festival.

“I am not involved in the running of the college and therefore I cannot go around issuing orders to its staff or management,” Ramots’oari said.

However, Kaloko is adamant that Ramainoane approached her office in the company of a man who claimed that he was a member of parliament.

“They told me that they were from the minister’s office although they did not meet him because he was in a meeting,” Kaloko said.

“They said they were also from the principal secretary and he had instructed that they should be given the grounds and the hall,” she said.

Kaloko also said the students and Moafrika had only booked verbally on different dates and at the time when Moafrika brought its written application she had forgotten about the students’ intervarsity games.

 “This thing was confusing because both parties made verbal bookings and I could not remember the dates for their respective events.”

Ramainoane however denied that he approached Kaloko’s office accompanied by an MP.

He also said he had never sought Ramots’oari’s support to lobby for the acquisition of the college facilities.

“The bookings were made by ’Mapoloko Namane who is preparing the festival for us and I was never directly involved in applying for the school facilities,” Ramainoane said.

“I only went there when I was going to pay solely because ’Mapoloko was not present on that day and I never discussed the availability or unavailability of the facilities with anyone, which would require me to acquire support from the authorities upon learning that someone had booked ahead of me,” he said.

Kaloko said they hoped to reach a solution to the dispute by tomorrow.

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