Pascalinah Kabi/Nthatuoa Koeshe
NEWLY elected All Basotho Convention (ABC) party deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao, says he will not quit his post as the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice-Chancellor due to his new political post.
Prof Mahao said this in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday indicating that his fate at the institution of higher learning would be determined by its council.
Prof Mahao emerged victorious after a bruising legal battle with the outgoing national executive (NEC) which had barred him from contesting in the elective conference held last weekend.
The Koro-Koro constituency committee, which had nominated Prof Mahao for the deputy leader post had earned itself suspension from all party activities by the NEC for glaringly defying its disqualification of Prof Mahao, its preferred candidate.
However, the constituency committee went on to challenge its suspension and Prof Mahao’s disqualification in court and after a protracted battle, he won the challenge on the same day when the elective conference started.
It has been anticipated that if he won the elections which signal his entrance into active politics, Prof Mahao would resign from NUL but yesterday he said he is not going anywhere at least for now.
He said rumours about his impending resignation from the NUL were peddled by people who “do not know anything about the university”. Prof Mahao said he would not do anything in breach of the law.
“There is no law that says that one cannot be a political activist and not serve the university at the same time,” Prof Mahao said.
“What the people who have been peddling this story are referring to is a law that was passed in 2002 and I happen to know about it because I know where it came from but the parliament passed a law in 2012 which repealed that clause.
“There is absolutely no law that says you cannot participate in politics and remain a staff member of the university. This is why we have had many activists here at the university in the last few years. They have held positions in political parties and we could not do anything about them because there is no law that says they should not. “
At a recent NUL annual general meeting, Prof Mahao indicated that he would not seek another term and “might leave earlier” depending on what the council decided”.
He implored the council to “quickly get down to the business of searching for new managers…in accordance with the act and statutes of the university to ensure seamless transition and continuity”.
“I seize opportunity to announce that, l, as Vice-Chancellor will not be seeking to renew my contract when it expires in the months ahead, and I may well leave earlier, contingent on how the Council advises itself.
“Similarly, we note that the Pro Vice Chancellor’s contract expires later in the year. Already the university has been without a substantive University Librarian for some time, and recruitment in this regard has not met with much success. Equally important is the fact that the contract of the registrar who is also the secretary of the council is up for review. In terms of the NUL Act, all these officers constitute executive management of the institution, the engine that has ensured the successes of the university hitherto.
“As if these changes in the leadership and management of the university will not be enough, the 13th council’s term of office also expires in September.”
He added: “Council must therefore quickly get down to the business of searching for new managers of the university in accordance with the act and statutes of the university to ensure a seamless transition and continuity”.
“In the same vein, management will be advising relevant stakeholders to initiate processes leading to the constitution of the 14th council.
“I view the eminent departure of some of us as necessary renewal that should lead to the infusion of new energy and new vision to propel the historic institution forward. The past four years, the NUL has turned the corner in a decisive manner from a staid institution characterised by discord, ill-discipline, inefficiencies and inertia,” Prof Mahao said at the AGM.
However, yesterday Prof Mahao said he would leave the decision of his contract with the university council. He said he was enjoying his job at the university.
“My contract expires at the end of November 2019 but the council can exercise its discretion (as to when I can leave). I am ready for that but the ball is in the hands of the council, not mine.
“We have made our efforts in the last four years and I think they have paid off and so I am not by any means running away particularly because the university is going to face what I call an Armageddon of financial challenges this year. If you are a leader and you jump ship, you are likely to send a wrong message that the university is not going to hold it together. I deliberately decided to stay put but I also avail myself to the discretion of our council. “
He said the university is a delicate environment which one cannot just desert “in an uncoordinated fashion” because there are people “who hold scarce qualifications at the institution and can knock at any door and the doors will open globally for them”.
“So, (if you just quit in an uncoordinated fashion) you might experience a hemorrhage of other people also leaving. We have worked very hard to build this university to have this calibre of people and so you do not want to leave in a manner that will sink the university back to where it was four years ago.
“When I came into office there were colleagues who were roaming the streets of Maseru with PhD qualifications and no jobs after leaving this university. We made an effort and some of them came back to the university and we do not want to experience that again. So, it is a very delicate transition that must be handled very delicately so that it does not send the university back into a tailspin,” Prof Mahao said.