Prof Mahao is in breach of the NUL Act

Prof Mahao is in breach of the NUL Act

We live in a nation where integrity isn’t talked about nearly enough. We live in a nation where “the end justifies the means” has become an acceptable school of thought for far too many.
The Vice-Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao appears to be willing to sacrifice the NUL Act at the altar of political expediency.
I am grateful that Prof Mahao has been nominated for the position of deputy leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) otherwise we would not have known that he has been serving in the party’s constituency committee for the past year.

Of late we have seen politicians enjoying privileges that ordinary citizens don’t. Sometimes it involves not being equal before the law.
It appears that Prof Mahao has begun behaving like a typical politician. Maybe the law is for ordinary people, not politicians like Prof Mahao.
Surely the creation of two classes of citizens, one more equal than the others is unconstitutional.

In a country where the rule of law applies, the rules apply even to the rulers not just the ordinary folks. The rule of law implies that every person is subject to the law.
Prof Mahao has not been entirely truthful when dealing with the NUL Council by serving the ABC Koro Koro Constituency Committee in secret. By so doing he failed to honour his duties by violating the NUL Act. Integrity means doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

According to the National University of Lesotho (Amendment) Act , 2002 section 14 “Section 49 of the principal law is amended in subsection (1) by inserting, after paragraph (e) the following new paragraph – [..,the Council may dismiss, terminate or remove from office any member of staff or other officer or servant of the University on the grounds that,]
“(f) he has accepted an appointment to any position in a committee or branch of any political party or become a Senator or a member of National Assembly.”
Prof Mahao has violated this law. The NUL Council should therefore terminate his contract with the University not because his name has been nominated for deputy leader in the coming ABC elective conference but for currently serving the Koro Koro ABC Constituency Committee.
Prof Mahao is supposed to be a disciplined academician but I am shocked that he has started his career in politics with such contradiction. He is behaving like typical power elites who frequently violate the very laws they are sworn to uphold.

Why would individuals who are entrusted to occupy such senior positions in society break the laws they help to create?
Some people are arguing that the key word is appointment and we should wait for the outcome of elections in February 2019 to determine if Prof Mahao has been appointed to serve in the executive committee or not.

Please note that the National University of Lesotho Act, 2002 section 14 as amended clearlyrefers to an “appointment to any position in a committee or branch of any political party”.
My argument is simple, Prof. Mahao is already violating the law by serving the Koro Koro constituency committee.
The ABC Constitution requires that members who aspire to serve in the Executive Committee must have served in the Constituency Committee.
In order for Prof Mahao to qualify for nomination for the Executive Committee he must have served in the lower committees. It is a forgone conclusion that Prof Mahao is serving in the lower committees. That’s the only criteria that makes him eligible for nomination to the Executive Committee elections.

Ethical leadership takes courage and conviction. It means doing the right thing even when it is not popular or easy. Prof. Mahao has failed the test and his actions speak louder than his words.
For the past one year Prof. Mahao has been very unethical by attempting to serve two masters and please all of them at the same time. Prof Mahao should have done the decent thing and resigned from his office as Vice-Chancellor.

I personally welcome his move to join politics given a scenario where the majority of political office holders lack the requisite skills and experience.
Prof Mahao’s case demonstrates what can happen when people at the top of an organization make poor ethical choices and end up in the news. I wonder why the NUL Council is silent on this matter.

It is highly irregular for an employee of the NUL and for that matter the Vice-Chancellor of a university to serve as a member of a political party committee.
There is a conflict of interest because NUL employees are supposed to be non-partisan in the performance of their official duties.
In other words, they are expected to treat all Basotho equally in the service they provide. But once Prof Mahao starts serving in the political party committees that will no longer be possible.
If he is serving in a political party committee as an employee of the NUL, it is logical to assume that Prof Mahao will use his position to favour the ABC party.
So, there is a conflict of interest and the NUL Act was protecting the institution by making sure that political participation is restricted.

The NUL Council in 2009 suspended Karabo Tlhoeli for serving in political party structures. Why is the NUL Council failing to act on Prof Mahao?
It may seem like Prof Mahao can gain power quickly and easily if he is willing to cut corners and act without the constraints of morality.
A good and responsible politician will give high regard for morality and will uphold the law with no unethical tendencies.
But last week’s ABC leadership nominations makes that period a sad week for Lesotho. But it is a shameful one for the ABC, whose members remain more dedicated to minimising Prof Mahao’s malfeasance than to the ideal that nobody, not even the NUL Vice-Chancellor, is above the law.

By: Ramahooana matlosa

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