THE alleged ringleader of the recent unrest at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) has denied allegations of a political motive, saying he was merely fighting for the students’ interests.
Makhaola Thienyane was suspended last Friday by NUL management after convening an unauthorised meeting with first-year students over National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) stipends at the campus’ Students Centre popularly known as Mzalas.
According to a press statement released by NUL, students instigated by Mr Thienyane “invaded teaching facilities hurried lecturers and students out of classes and disrupted the normal activities of the university”.
“They further went about trashing the campus, damaged property and made a bonfire at the main gate with timber material bought to renovate the University yogurt factory,” reads part of the statement.
Following Mr Thienyane’s suspension, the Lesotho Students Convention (LeSCo) NUL branch issued a press statement accuseing the fourth-year student of trying to pursue a “congress agenda” at the institute. LeSCo is a student organisation affiliated to the All Basotho Convention.
“We therefore condemn actions orchestrated by the congress-affiliated students influencing students to shun classes in the name of protesting against Thienyane’s suspension,” read the statement signed by LeSCo NUL Branch Secretary M. Mofundisi.
However, Mr Thienyane told this paper his suspension was purely academic.
“I saw the LeSCo press release and it is not true that my suspension has anything to do with politics. I don’t want my suspension to be politicised. It is not true that some congress members are politicizing this matter. It is purely an academic matter and must be handled as such.”
Meanwhile, the NUL statement alleged Mr Thienyane did not have the “bona fides of whatever kind” to convene students meeting on campus or to campaign for Student Representative Council elections as “he was not a registered student”.
“It has also transpired that Thienyane having failed his year of study can only come to campus as a repeating student. As a repeating student, he is not even entitled to an NMDS bursary and therefore cannot pretend to be one of those aggrieved by the delay in NMDS processes,” the statement read.