Lesotho Times

ABC youths blame government over riots

MASERU — The All Basotho Convention (ABC) youth league says the government must take responsibility for the  chaos that ensured at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) last week and left a student dead and 14 others injured.
They said the death of the student during the strike was an indication that the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)-led government had failed in its mandate to protect lives.
The ABC youth league spokesperson, Jane Mohoalohoalo, said five government ministries — finance, education, home affairs, justice, and defence — should take the blame “for failing to practise the principle of collective responsibility”.  
He said Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his cabinet must resign and make way “for those who have the nation’s best interests at heart”. 
“Prime Minister, as the Minister of Defence and National Security, we look to you as our last resort in times like this. Basotho do not deserve to lose their lives under your protection,” Mohoalohoalo said.
“You have not been hired but have been mandated with the responsibility of protecting and caring for this nation.”
Mohoalohoalo said the Ministry of Education was also largely to blame for the harrowing turn of events adding that “it is the ministry’s responsibility to ensure that students receive proper education”.
“It is the Ministry of Education’s responsibility to see to it that students receive proper education unhindered,” he said.
He said they should have been proper co-ordination with the finance ministry to deal with the problem.
“Both ministries should have engaged each other to get to the real reason why students’ monies were being delayed as that is in itself a major inconvenience,” Mohoalohoalo said.
“When the finance minister initially assumed his role in the ministry between 2004 and 2005, he always stressed the importance of the NMDS paying students’ allowances on time to avoid inconveniences.
However, in recent years he has been silent and the attitude he displays is quite disheartening, he said.
 “The Ministry of Home Affairs should have been wise enough to engage and discuss with these two ministries (about) the importance of paying students on time to avoid demonstrations and the likelihood of confrontation with the police force which could result in destruction of property and loss of innocent lives,” said a visibly angry Mohoalohoalo.
“As the ABC youth we also blame the Ministry of Justice for dragging its feet with regard to conducting thorough investigations into the National Manpower’s delay in paying students or paying students who have rebelled and vandalised property,” Mohoalo said.
In response to the accusations levelled at her ministry by the ABC Youth League, the Minister of Education and Training, Dr ‘Mamphono Khaketla said “they are entitled to their opinion.
“The ABC youth are entitled to their opinion. However, I would say they should have investigated the matter thoroughly before launching attacks,” Khaketla said.
On the NDMS, Khaketla said problems there differ according to individual cases.
“For example, sometimes the National Manpower staff delay to deposit the funds into students’ bank accounts and in that case it is obvious that they will have to be blamed,” she said.
“However, sometimes students give the National Manpower wrong account numbers which unfortunately applied in this recent case. Obviously payments were delayed as a result.”
Khaketla said the National Manpower alone could not be blamed. Each case should be studied carefully before unwarranted accusations are hurled.
Khaketla said “in this case the National Manpower did better than in previous years”.
Khaketla said: “Let me stress the fact that unlike in previous years, this time around the National Manpower performed better. I am saying this because all transactions had been made except for the ones regarding accommodation.”
Khaketla said the recent situation only affected students who live off-campus “because landlords had begun evicting them”.
“The affected group was that of students who reside off-campus. The fact that they had not paid rent in months had led to their landlords evicting them from their houses.”
With regard to students from universities outside the country, Khaketla maintained that the Manpower had already paid their agents.
“With regard to students from outside the country, I can confirm that the National Manpower had already paid their monies to their agents and that they were the ones who delayed in paying landlords and service providers at students’ residences,” Khaketla said.
“When all is said and done, it remains our responsibility as a ministry to ensure that things go smoothly for our students. But the fact is that the National Manpower cannot shoulder the blame alone.”
Meanwhile, the office of the registrar at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) has issued a statement conveying sympathies over the death of the female student, MatsélisoThulo, who died during the strike. Thulo was a first year Public Administration and Political Science student.
According to the directive, the university, which has since been closed, will reopen on the 1st of November, while lectures will resume on the 2nd of November 2009.

Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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