Mahao nears NUL exit

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Pascalinah Kabi

THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) Council and Vice-Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao are close to concluding negotiations for a deal which could see the latter exiting the country’s premier learning institution in April, seven months before his contract expires on 30 November 2019.

There is added impetus to decide Prof Mahao’s future at the university in the aftermath of his recent election to the post of deputy leader of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC). The ABC held its elective conference on 1 and 2 February 2019. However, Prof Mahao and the rest of his colleagues in the new NEC are still to assume office after their elections was fiercely resisted by the old NEC which has since taken the matter to court.

NUL Council Chairperson Tseko Bohloa this week told the Lesotho Times that negotiations between the council and Prof Mahao were at an advanced stage and that the council would meet again next week to append its signature to the proposed separation agreement.

Mr Bohloa said that a task team was established by the NUL Council to negotiate the separation deal with Prof Mahao.

“We had a meeting where we looked into the matter holistically and we are now dealing with what we call a separation package for the vice-chancellor,” Mr Bohloa said.

“We have called a council meeting for next week where the council will interrogate the contents of the separation package. We hope that the whole issue will be concluded by next Thursday”.

The Lesotho Times also learnt from well-placed sources that the two parties were exploring two options for Prof Mahao’s exit, including a proposal that he should immediately go on six-months terminal leave as per one of the clauses of his employment contract with the university.

Although Prof Mahao is not ill, reliable sources have informed this publication that the two parties think that taking up the terminal leave would work for both parties and allow Prof Mahao to leave the university much earlier than the 30 November 2019 date for the expiry of his contract.

The sources said the other option was for Prof Mahao to immediately leave the university and be paid out in lieu of his remaining time in office.

“The Vice Chancellor is entitled to a six-months terminal leave and that is one of the options they are looking at. The other option is that he should immediately leave and be paid in lieu of his six months’ notice,” the source said, adding that both parties were working closely to ensure that they amicably part ways.

Another source said that Prof Mahao and the council had made it clear that they did not want to rush into a decision that might come back to haunt them in future. The source said the two parties were also keen to avoid anything that would bring the university into disrepute or soil Prof Mahao’s reputation.

The source further said the council “had advised itself against being influenced by the political pressure to ensure that Prof Mahao immediately leaves office due to his involvement in the ABC as its newly elected deputy leader”.

“There is a cordial relationship between Ntate Mahao and the council and they have not entered into these negotiations in bad spirit. They are trying their best to understand each other’s point of view and they are giving each other the respect they both deserve.

“The council has made it clear that whatever is being done should be done with respect and dignity for Prof Mahao and that the process should also protect the integrity of the university. Both parties strongly believe that he has not committed any crimes and therefore he should not be treated like a criminal.

“The council is working very hard to ensure that the whole process is not influenced by political dynamics. The council members want the process to be conducted professionally until it has been concluded. Prof Mahao is also anxious to see the process completed and he is giving the council the respect it deserves,” the source said.

NUL has already advertised the Vice Chancellor’s post and tomorrow is the deadline for the submission of applications.

The negotiations between the two parties began last month after Prof Mahao informed the council that he would not seek another term and he “might leave earlier” depending on what the council decided.

Prof Mahao communicated his decision during the NUL annual general meeting in January, a few weeks before the ruling ABC’s hotly disputed 1-2 February 2019 NEC elections where he clinched the deputy leader’s post.

 

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