Students to march for loans, slain colleague

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MASERU — Tertiary students say they will today demonstrate in Maseru to force the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) to release their funds.
The students said the march will also be held to commemorate the killing of National University of Lesotho (NUL) student, Mat’seliso Thulo, last October.
Thulo died after she was shot by the police during violent protests at the Roma campus on October 23.
The students will also remember Lebohang Makara who was shot and killed by armed guards while visiting his sister at the Lesotho Agricultural College last year.
The march has been organised by the Lesotho National Union of Students (Lenus) which is an association of students in tertiary institutions and universities.
Hlalele Hlalele, the secretary general of the LENUS, told the Lesotho Times yesterday that students were not happy that the NMDS had failed to disburse funds to students on time.
Hlalele said they were not with the pace with which the government is resolving students’ grievances.
He accused the Ministry of Finance of dragging its feet on the allowances issue.
“The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has not been willing to address our problems with NMDS.
“We have tried several times to get them to intervene but they always turned us down,” Hlalele said.
In a press statement released on Monday, Lenus said it had tried without success to meet NMDS director Nthometseng Ntsike and the Minister of Finance Timothy Thahane.
“LENUS has made all the efforts to meet the NMDS and the minister to find a permanent solution towards disbursement of loan bursary (funds) to students, but the duo had given us a cold shoulder.
“No wonder why we ended up having a violent demonstration which caused the death of one student and left many others wounded,” said the statement.
The students’ union also accused the Minister of Education  ‘Mamphono Khaketla of being “arrogant” when she was supposed to address students’ concerns.
“The representative minister of education has been silent yet her territory was being trampled upon by another ministry.
“Her mandate is to produce quality graduates who would be competitive in the market. The first time she commented she was very arrogant.
“She said there was a Third Force amongst us!”
The students also accused the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is in charge of the police, of not doing enough to investigate and arrest Thulo’s killers.
The union said it had written to Police Commissioner Malejake Letooane demanding that the police investigate the death of Thulo and issue a public apology to the students.
They said they also wanted the police boss to suspend police officers who were assigned to the university when Thulo died.
“Only one has been done, that is to set up an inquest.”
The demonstration will begin at around 9am.
The students said they will march from the Lesotho Agriculture College premises to the Ministry of Finance, then to the Ministry of Education.
From there they will march to the Ministry of Home Affairs offices before proceeding to the Parliament building.
They are expected to hand out petition to all the ministries demanding action on their grievances.

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