MASERU – Tertiary institutions here have in the past two weeks been hit by a wave of protest actions by students demanding unpaid allowances from the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).
First to take to the streets was the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUTC), followed by the Lerotholi Polytechnic (Fokothi), then the National University of Lesotho (NUL), with the Lesotho Agricultural College (LAC) joining the fray last.
Students in all of the institutions are supposed to have renewed their contracts two months ago, but it has emerged that since they did not receive their allowances, they were forced to vacate their campuses after intense students’ unrest over allowances from the NMDS.
NUL Students Representative Council (SRC) president, Tumo Tsanyane, told Public Eye in an interview that the university had failed to file the school’s academic registration list with the NMDS, hence the delay in students’ allowance payments.
He indicated that when they enquired when the allowances will be due, they were told that the transactions will be sorted in November “so the students have run out of patience since they are dying of hunger, hence they decided to strike to speed up the process.”
“However, I strongly condemn what other students did. No student should be out there vandalizing the community’s businesses since those businesses are the ones that make our lives better by providing us with the essential needs,” Tsanyane said, adding that it is also uncalled for that students are finding it fashionable to harm other students during such protests.
More than five students were seriously injured during this protest at the NUL. Tsanyane stated that if ever this kind of protest happens again the SRC will work very hard to make sure that things are done diplomatically, observing all the laws of the land and making sure that everyone’s safety is a priority.
Following the violent uprising at NUL, the school ordered all students to vacate the campus after a day of intense students’ unrest.
LAC SRC president, Lillo Moiloa, said the LAC management had stated that NMDS gave out a smaller amount of money to the school than expected, leading to the delay of the payment of students’ allowances.
He further stated that though the school said they did not have enough money, the NMDS indicated that all the allowances have been allocated to the schools but the LAC students were suffering.
The school had, according to the SRC, failed to even pay for the classrooms’ electricity and Wi-Fi bill. Students from the LUCT took to the streets last week, blocking the Moshoeshoe Road over delayed issuing of their allowances by the NMDS.
Police later dispersed the crowd of students. Speaking to this publication LUCT SRC vice president, Tumisang Ngatane, said only the fourth-year students and some of the second and third-year students have not received their allowances.
All the three student leaders said it is a huge challenge for students since this delay hinders them from progressing with their school work, though they have had several meetings with their schools’ management to try and speed up the payments processes so that students can be able to attend classes and sit for their examinations.
“The school management indicated that those who failed to sit for examinations will not be allowed back into the school, and they even won’t be allowed to sit for supplementary examinations.
It is our biggest plea as the students’ union to the school to review this issue of examinations until all students have received their allowances,” Ngatane said. When the Lerotholi Polytechnic students attempted to protest, the school was immediately shut down.
The college’s management issued a statement on the same day informing all students that the school had been closed with immediate effect due to the ongoing class boycott over delayed allowances which started earlier that week.
The institution shall remain closed until further notice while investigations into the unrest continue and plans are looked into to bring the situation back to normalcy.