NUL’s law faculty dean resigns in protest

MASERU — The dean of the law faculty at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, has resigned in protest over the varsity’s restructuring exercise.

Letsika told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that he resigned at the beginning of this month in protest over the lack of policy to guide the restructuring exercise.

He says he was also not happy with management’s decision to proceed with the exercise in spite of his objections.

“I strongly believe that we should have a policy that is clearly articulated instead of the current secrecy surrounding the NUL restructuring process and what it holds for everybody at the university,”
Letsika said.

“People don’t resign for the sake of resigning but there are things pushing them to resign. This restructuring is haphazard.”

He added: “I agree that there is need for restructuring at NUL but there should be a policy on how we are going to do it.”

The NUL this month began a massive restructuring exercise that management says is aimed at streamlining operations to improve efficiency.

The exercise will see the university retrenching almost half of its 800 employees.

The university ended its last financial year with a M5 million budget deficit that is now expected to balloon to a colossal M50 million this year.

At the same time the university owes more than M10 million in taxes to the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA).

But Letsika said he did not know where the restructuring is leading the university to because the management is tightlipped and “there is nothing guiding anybody on implementation”.

He said he took offence when several critical meetings were not recorded despite discussing critical issues that will affect the university in the long run.

Letsika said he will be serving notice till June when he will hand over the reins to the next dean.

His resignation comes against a background of a spate of strikes by academic and non-academic staff who are angry over the restructuring exercise.

Students have also joined in lambasting the exercise. Workers at the university last year complained that the restructuring exercise will see at least half of them retrenched.

The university this month shut down three of its campuses, the Institute of Extra Mural Studies in Mohale’s Hoek, Mahobong and Qacha’s Nek.

Workers who are aged 55 and above have already been urged to take up early retirement.

In a circular last September, NUL vice-chancellor Sharon Siverts said the retrenchment exercise will start between January and June this year “with academic staff retrenchments effective with stated programme changes”.

“Management is aware of the sensitivities and concerns arising from the expedited timeframe. We are all typically averse to change and would like to have more time; however, the current situation forces us to move
expeditiously,” read part of the circular.

The circular said the vice-chancellor did not want to entertain any dialogue during the discussion but merely wanted the workers’ “views before we can decide on how to survive the crisis that we are in”.

“The intent of the consultative meetings is to receive your contributions and suggestions. Management will answer questions that require clarification and information on making inputs, but will not engage in dialogue to derail the process.

“The ultimate purpose of the consultations is for staff to give management an alternative to get us through the crisis,” read the circular.

The management shut down the institution last October after lecturers downed tools demanding a 15 percent pay increase.

But management said it was not in a position to award any salary increment, leading to a three-month stalemate.

The university was only reopened at the end of December with lectures beginning last Monday.

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