LAT moves to rescue teachers from debt

 Mulls a full-fledged banking institution open to all Basotho

’MATHAPELO TAKISI

MASERU – The Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) has launched a financial services wing for personalised loan services for teachers, with plans to set up an LAT Bank in the future. From predominantly providing loans to teachers and the larger civil service, the facility plans to benefit the Basotho at large in future. The launch was held at the LAT head office in Maseru last week. Speaking at the event, LAT secretary general Letsatsi Ntsibolane said appreciation of the sorry state of the financial situation of most of their members has informed the decision to go this route.

He said a look at a teacher’s monthly pay-slip was enough to force LAT leadership to conjure a plan to rescue the educators from the grip of debt. “We thought it prudent to establish the teachers’ own facility to which they can go for financial assistance, instead of going to other high-charging micro-finances institutions,” Ntsibolane continued, adding that eventually LAT members will become shareholders in LAT Financial Services.

All registration processes have been completed and members who would be interested to own shares in the facility will purchase a share at M500 and, according to interim board chairman, Tsekang Leoto, each member can buy up to five shares. Ntsibolane went on to applaud teachers for joining hands to come up “with this remarkable thing, and our vision is to have an LAT Bank, the Red Bank, eventually.”

Furthermore, Ntsibolane introduced the temporary board members who will be hands-on until the company is up and running. He said once the company is operational they will choose a substantive board formed with expert members because it will then be an independent entity where LAT members will be going for services offered.

The interim board is as follows: chairperson, Tsekang Leoto, deputized by ’Mabokang Mdandalaza; Pule Khiba, finaical expert; and, Motlatsi Shao, legal expert. Mpati Letsiki, ’Mathabe Majara, Kabelo Maqache and Tebelo Ntsapa are ordinary members. Speaking at the event, the association’s deputy chairperson in Leribe, Tebelo Ntsapa, expressed hope that the initiative will help teachers to come out of debt. He urged financial service administrators to set well-defined timeframes for repayment of loans while also doing proper research before disbursing funds.

He sais he hopes the initiative will benefit multiple forthcoming Basotho generations. Expressing her excitement, ’Mamohlomi Mathibeli, the LAT chairperson in the district of Maseru, said looking at the loans teachers are currently servicing it can only be hoped that the new LAT company will bring an end to teachers’ struggles and that their children will not be victims of poverty like they are presently.

“There is money that we are going to make,” she said. A representative of PKF Lesotho, a local branch of PKF International, Rankoe Sam Mphaka, revealed that at the launch he advised the association to establish loans service to generate money, indicating that following registration a series of challenges were encountered but the hiccups were more political than business-related.

Mphaka further called on the teachers’ association to separate the new facility, LAT Financial Services from LAT the association for it to grow and prosper and for them to reach their vision of growing the financial service into a bank in future. He explained that the association has its political struggles and they should not affect the company, pointing out that “the association’s politics should not affect the company’s growth and progress.”

Thabang Mapena, Metropolitan Lesotho regional manager, congratulated LAT for this giant step forward, indicating that in the 50 years that Metropolitan has been in Lesotho their main partners and supporters have been teachers, which is why the company constructed an office as a way of showing appreciation. He said his company’s vision is for LAT to remain an independent association, which the Metropolitan was also honoured to work with and benefit from.

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