Siverts resignation ‘cause for relief’

Professor Sharon SivertsBy Poloko Peo

KOLO – The Lesotho Students Convention (Lesco), a National University of Lesotho (NUL) student association
aligned to the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) is “delighted” by Vice Chancellor Sharon Sivert’s pending resignation.
Addressing an ABC rally in the Kolo constituencyon Sunday, Lesco treasurer Tlamoho Matlama expressed relief at the VC’s resignation adding “we can now sleep in peace”.  “We’re happy that there’s going to be change at the university after hearing that Ms. Siverts is resigning.

We’ll sleep and study in peace as there will be no strikes to disrupt us,” Matlama said. “This resignation will hopefully lead to change in the university’s management and the institute at large.”

A majority of students, Matlama claimed, were pleased that Siverts was resigning except those in support of the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) who allege the VC’s decision to step down “is as a result of pressure from government authorities”.

“They also allege that Siverts succumbed to threats from NUL lecturers who promised to engage in prolonged strikes as long as she’s at the helm,” Matlama said.

ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, seemingly in support of what the Lesco youths had said, told the same rally that he was satisfied Siverts was finally leaving NUL.

“I am very satisfied to hear that that white woman is going to resign from NUL. I hope black people remaining behind will run the institute as is expected of them,” Thabane said.

“They should take it upon themselves to improve the quality of education offered by the university in order to produce productive students who will help advance this country in the future.”

The PM, who has on several occasions in the past expressed dismay at Sivert’s handling of NUL issues, said when the institute was first established it was administered by white people from Canada “after which the Lesotho government took over”.

“Since then, the school had been run exclusively by accomplished Basotho nationals. I therefore urge all those qualified Basotho to run that school for the betterment of this country,” Thabane said. “It does not sit well with me that government
sponsors students to study abroad when we have capable schools in the country. That opens floodgates to students abandoning Lesotho when they complete their studies.”

According to the premier, the state had incurred losses owing to students failing to pay back the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) after completing their studies as they “opt to seek greener pastures in countries like South Africa”.

Siverts’ three-year tenure as NUL’s VC has been marred by prolonged strikes by academic and nonacademic staff, as well as students who were opposed to infrastructural restructuring aimed at improving the university’s fortunes both academically
and financially.

Speaking at the same rally, ABC chairman and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Molobeli Soulo echoed similar entiments adding that he liked white people because “they heed advice when you give it to them”.
“Just like that white woman who listened to advice given to her by the ABC leader,” Soulo said.

ABC youth league president Taelo Ntsokotsane also weighed in telling this paper on Tuesday that although the youth committee had not analysed the news of the resignation, Sivert’s tenure had been characterised by strikes and dismal academic results across faculties.
According to Ntsokotsane, it was apparent that communication between Siverts and her staff was poor adding that it was about time Basotho were at the helm of the university to “fulfill their given mandate”.

Ntsokotsane referred to Sivert’s stint at the University of Botswana (UB), which he said she was able to transform and suggested that her failure to yield similar results at NUL was “her lack of communication skills and failure to connect with staff”.

“Her lack of insight into our cultural background, coupled with her reclusive nature have been major hindrances to progress,” Ntsokotsane said.

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