NUL in dispute over internet services bill

By Keiso Mohloboli

MASERU — The National University of Lesotho (NUL) owes Telekom SA, a South African telephone network company, an estimated M1 143 000 in arrears and for breaching the terms of a contract entered into in 2010 for the provision of internet services.

An e-mail from Clive Shikwambane (MC) of Telekom to one Moeketsi of NUL shows the university as having been told by Telekom SA that the “30 days notice rule will apply before they cease internet services”.

According to a NUL computer services interoffice memorandum, dated May 21, 2013 and signed by Teboho Raseeke, the university terminated the contract before its expiry date.

This paper understands that NUL’s finance department has since been refusing to issue payment for the internet bill.

The university is also said to have doubts that the two sets of internet circuits were completely terminated.

“Apparently the termination of the contract was not done properly,” the memo says.

The memorandum further notes that in 2010, Telekom SA leased a four-megabytes per second internet circuit to the NUL.

However, the internet service was upgraded to a 12-megabyte per second circuit round about September 2011 for the university’s use.

“The circuits applied for internet use within NUL and had a two-year contract running out in 2013,” the memo says.

Acting NUL Registrar, ‘Masefinela Mphuthing, declined to speak to this paper.

“I cannot answer to your questions on that matter because I am in a middle of a meeting,” Mphuthing said.

She then referred the paper to Raseeke who said he was “totally not in a position of confirming anything” on internet contract between NUL and Telekom SA.

“I have to get authorisation from my boss before saying anything,” Raseeke said.

Telkom SA’s Shikwambane also said he was not at liberty to respond to the paper.

“We cannot discuss customers’ accounts or any other information thereof with third parties,” Shikwambane said, adding that the Business Code Ethics does not allow him to confirm anything about NUL owing them the M1 142 406 in question.

However, NUL Acting Vice Chancellor Mafa Sejanamane confirmed that they had a contract with Telekom SA and confirmed that NUL terminated the contract “before its expiry date”.

“The issue here is that it is true that the internet contract between Telekom SA and NUL was cancelled,” Sejanamane said.

He further said that although the internet was upgraded from four megabytes per second to 12 megabytes per second “the service was never provided”.

According to Sejanamane, NUL carried out an assessment study on provision of internet and learnt that Telekom SA was “unaffordable with their expensive charges”.

“That is why we cancelled the contract and resorted to a local telecommunications company”.

But Sejanamane was also quick to stress that indeed NUL owed Telkom money for internet services provided “but not that much”.

“I do not agree that we owe over a million for internet services. They may claim we owe them that much, but I do not agree,” Sejanamane said.

He also revealed that the university was in talks “to pay up the internet bill”.

“But it will not be a nice thing to reveal our cards to the media that is why I cannot be specific on how much we really owe Telekom SA,” Sejanamane said.

He added: “I would not respond to all your questions specifically but what I can tell you is that Telekom SA was expensive and unaffordable.”

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