NUL students blame Mochoboroane for fees debacle

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Mohalenyane Phakela

ABOUT 100 National University of Lesotho (NUL) students, whose results have been withheld by the university over unpaid fees, have gone to court to seek  an order compelling the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) to pay the outstanding fees for the 2021/2022 academic year.

The students have no kind words for Development Planning Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, whom they blame for the debacle.  They accuse the minister of failing to honour a promise to get the government to pay the fees.

They allege  in their court papers that Mr Mochoboroane, whose ministry oversees the NMDS, had  promised to sponsor their learning at the NUL for the 2021/2022 academic year, which ended in June 2022.

To their utter dismay, they were told by the university last month when results were being issued that they would not get theirs due to  the outstanding fees.

The Development Planning ministry’s principal secretary, Sello Tšukulu, Mr Mochoboroane, NMDS, Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa, NUL Registrar Liteboho Maqalika, Dean of Student Affairs Tholoana Ntene, Bursar ‘Masechaba Mantsoe-Ntaopane and the NUL are first to eighth respondents respectively in the application.

Mr Mochoboroane and the respondents have not yet filed their opposing papers.

One of the students, Itumeleng Mariti, states in her founding affidavit that they had previously engaged Mr Mochoboroane who promised that the NMDS would sponsor their learning at the NUL.

“I was part of the meetings held with the second respondent (Mochoboroane) and he undertook to ensure that we attended lectures, and that communication would be made to the university undertaking to settle our fees through the third respondent (NMDS),” Ms Mariti said.

“We left on that promise and proceeded to attend lectures. We never encountered any problems as we even sat for the first and second semester examinations.”

Ms Mariti, a fourth-year law student,  states that they completed the first semester without any huddles and obtained their academic results, an indication that their sponsorship was up to date.

However, she says they were surprised when their end of year results were withheld on account of unpaid fees.

“We sat for the second semester examinations and awaited our results accordingly. Upon making inquiries about the release of results, we were shocked to learn that the NMDS has not paid up our fees as promised. The registrar has made it clear that our results are not going to be released if we do not push the NMDS to pay up for us, or rather, that we should pay our fees if no agreement is reached with the sponsor.

“We went back to Mr Mochoboroane who for the first time, confirmed that NMDS was not going to pay our fees. The best he could promise us was that we would be prioritised and preferred for sponsorship in the next academic year,” Ms Mariti says.

The students  now want the court to compel Mr Mochoboroane to honour the promise they claim the minister  made to them.

“I aver that the second respondent (Mr Mochoboroane) being the head of the ministry under which the NMDS falls, should be held to his promise.”

That the promise was made by a public figure to needy students only worsens the situation, Ms Mariti says. The students had undertaken their studies based on Mr Mochoboroane’s promise. Had they been informed on time that the NMDS would not pay their fees, they would have decided whether  or not to proceed with their courses, she states.

“Failure to give us a choice is prejudicial in the circumstances and the minister should be held accountable for his promises. We are now indebted to the university as a direct result of the minister’s promise. He should be held accountable for reason of his undertaking and position in government. The minister’s conduct in the circumstances of this case should never be left unfettered,” Ms Mariti states.

The matter is yet to be heard in the High Court.

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