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NMDS owes colleges M350 million



MASERU – THE government is struggling to pay a staggering M350 million in tuition for tertiary students on state bursaries in local colleges and universities.
About 80 percent of students in tertiary institutions are sponsored by the state.
The government has been battling to clear the debt since last year.
Some institutions are now struggling to pay salaries and other operations expenses. Others have resorted to withholding students’ results to force the government to clear the arrears.

The National University of Lesotho (NUL), which is owed M51 million, has told students they will not get their results until the government pays. Selibe Mochoboroane, the Minister of Development Planning, has confirmed the M350 million debt most of which he said is owed to NUL.
The NUL Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Reatlehile Makateng, said students are stranded after the university refused to release their results.
“The previous academic year was completed without any payment. Our contract with the school is simple, failure to pay fees means results will not be published and, unfortunately, most of us are sponsored,” Makateng said.
He said those who have graduated are unable to apply for jobs because they don’t have their transcripts. Those who want to pursue postgraduate courses are also stranded.

“We have been here before and out of pity, the university released results, afterwards, the government never bothered to pay and it was a bad debt written off. The council ordered them to avoid this in future,” he said.
Liteboho Maqalika-Lerotholi, the NUL Registrar, said the decision to withhold results is not meant to punish students. Maqalika-Lerotholi said the university’s regulations are that students should pay at least 40 percent of their tuition before registration.
She said the university has however made an exception for government students because of the good relationship with the NMDS. “They always pay soon after the registration and the first payment often covers more than 50 percent of the tuition,” Maqalika-Lerotholi said.
“This time there has been a very long delay that has severely affected our operations. It is important to understand that 80 percent of our students are sponsored by the government.”

“When the government doesn’t pay, the results are the only thing we can hold on to. And that’s as per our regulations,” she said.
The Lerotholi Polytechnic Registrar, Maleshoane Lepota, confirmed that the NMDS owes but declined to disclose figures.
Lepota said the government has made a payment but there is still a substantial balance.
“It is not a problem unique to this year. However, because of Covid, the entire world is under strain financially, and this could be another dimension to the problem this year,” Lepota said.
“The polytechnic has continually kept communication channels open, and the same has been done on the side of NMDS, they have kept in constant communication and made us aware that there may be delays with regard to completing payment.”

“Our relationship has been managed through communication despite these challenges.”
She however said the delay has severely affected the college’s cash flow.
“Our main source of income is student fees as well as subvention and consequently our operational plans are based on those sources of income and if there are payment delays, the operations are affected negatively.”
The Finance and Procurement Officer at the Centre for Accounting Studies (CAS), ’Makatleho Lephallo, said financial matters between the institution and the NMDS were confidential. “We don’t need any intervention from outside,” Lephallo said.

The NMDS spokesman, Moeketsi Rankhone, said M50 million of the M100 million owed to NUL was paid two weeks ago. Rankhone said the university has promised to release the results.
“All higher learning institutions are owed but we are in the process of settling the debts. For NUL, we are still in talks,” he said, adding that the government has a financial crisis.
Mochoboroane said the financial crisis is so serious that the government has stopped allocating funds quarterly. He said the money is now released monthly and the ministry has to share it among the schools.
“We had to prioritise students’ allowances over tuition,” Mochoboroane said.

“It’s not like we don’t want to pay but there is a serious financial crisis and it’s not avoidable.”
“We are hoping to finish off the debts by this month so that we will be able to deal with the new intake.”
The Ministry of Finance’s Accountant General, ’Malehlohonolo Mahase, confirmed the cash flow crisis.
“Because of Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions, tax collection has been very slow,” Mahase said.
She however said they expect to pay M100 million this week and another M50 million next week.
“Afterwards, we will start processing that of August intake,” she said.

Mapule Motsopa

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6 more added to Manyokole’s corruption case



MASERU – SIX more officials from the Land Administrative Authority (LAA) and the Maseru City Council (MCC) were this week joined to Lefu Manyokole’s corruption case.

Ntšebo Putsoa, Ntsoaki Matobo, Matlaleha Phahlane, Thakane Tau, Phakoane Pitikoe and Lebaka Matlatsa were formally charged and appeared before Magistrate ’Makopano Rantšo on Monday.

Court papers show that the accused contravened the Land Act between April 2016 and May 2018 at the LAA, they unlawfully and intentionally fraudulently processed the registration or issued a lease or any other document or instrument relating to land plot no. 13291-1110.

The state alleges that Manyokole, who is the former principal secretary in the Ministry of local government, made false representations to the LAA regarding plot number 13291-1110 to acquire illegal title to it.

The charge sheet says Manyokole, at or near the LAA offices in Maseru, registered or obtained a lease of the plot knowing that it did not belong to him.

Manyokole is accused of contravening provisions of section 83 of the Land Act of 2010 by making a false claim to gain the piece of land.

The court released Manyokole on M1 000 bail last week and ordered him to reappear before the same court last Monday.

Manyokole was granted bail under conditions that he should not interfere with the crown witnesses and that he should report to the police.

His co-accused were also granted bail of M1 000 each by the court.

The court papers showed that the said land was situated in Qoaling in Maseru district and Manyokole and his co-accused knew very well that they are not the official owners of that land.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Storm over fleet maintenance deal



MASERU – Opposition parties are fuming after the government this week picked five companies to maintain its fleet without going through a tender process.

In a January 27, 2023 savingram, the Ministry of Finance said it had appointed Maseru Toyota, Maputsoe Toyota, Lesotho Nissan, Benny Enterprise, and Mdlokovana to maintain the government’s fleet.

The savingram, titled Interim Vehicle Maintenance Guidelines, says the vehicle maintenance contract signed between the Lesotho government and Fleet Services Lesotho (FSL) in 2020 “experienced serious challenges that involved the suspension of services in 2021 which were later resumed partially in 2022”.

“Since then the government made attempts to resolve some issues which were under its control without success,” it reads.

It also says the Ministry of Finance held a meeting with local vehicle service providers accredited by FSL.

“These are Maseru Toyota, Maputsoe Toyota, Lesotho Nissan, Benny Enterprise, and Mdlokovana,” it reads.

It says the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “the possibility of working directly with the government while processes of resolving issues between the government and the FSL shareholders are underway”.

This has however infuriated opposition parties that have accused the government of corruptly dishing out jobs without going through a tender process.

The Democratic Congress (DC)’s deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, told thepost that the party will soon call a press conference to address the matter.

“We always knew that these rich people would start dishing out tenders to themselves,” Letsosa said.

He said they have been warning the nation about the same people even before the general elections “but they called us names saying we have been benefiting too, now look”.

“The time for the rich people to eat in the face of hungry Basotho has come,” he said.

“No one should cry, we warned them not to vote for these people and they did not listen.”

He complained that the companies mentioned on the savingram did not even tender for the job.

“We are surprised that no tendering processes were followed here.”

He added that when giving themselves the tenders the government suspended the initial company that had been awarded the tender.

“It is not fair at all. How can you be the government and do business with yourself?”

Letsosa said the DC is “against the individualism that is being practised by the parties in government by not advertising the tenders so that all interested parties can bid”.

The Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) leader, Teboho Mojapela, said “the RFP heavyweights (made) their riches through corruption”.

“We always warned the people that these rich men would steal tenders at every chance they get, now they are doing just that,” Mojapela said.

“As a rich man I never did business with the government,” he said.

“This country needs rich leaders on the forefront, but not corrupt ones.”

He said time will expose what Basotho have called upon themselves by voting for the current government.

“They are showing their true colours now.”

He added that this will be a lesson to Basotho to start looking at qualities of politicians when voting.

“They must vote for people who fear God and are faithful,” he said.

“The RFP people are corrupt and all of them will never change, they are going to continue enriching themselves.”

The Basotho Action Party (BAP) deputy leader, Lebohang Thotanyana, said the government is “committing a crime by not issuing tenders for the job”.

“Mdlokovana is an interested party, it is a big mistake to give him a tender unless it is now their policy to award themselves tenders,” Thotanyana said.

Clute Mdlokovana, the owner of the car maintenance chain of businesses named after his name, is the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP for Mohale’s Hoek constituency.

Thotanyana said Mdlokovana will not be able to keep service providers to the government accountable as an MP “because he too is a service provider to the government”.

He also said the previous governments always advertised tenders “but these people just sit down and award themselves tenders, they did not even tender”.

The Basotho National Party (BNP) secretary general, Moeketsi Hanyane, also condemned the government’s move.

He recalled that during the BNP government, Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan once barred his ministers from being actively involved in running businesses.

“He told Chief Peete Peete to sell all his buses so that he could give a chance to other Basotho to do business,” Hanyane said.

“It is high time Basotho as a nation stood up to condemn the bad behavior of the RFP,” he said.

“It is not fair that the already rich people will be richer while other citizens suffer,” he said.

“Mdlokovana is a Member of Parliament, imagine how many millions he is going to make with this deal with the government.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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How MP’s wife was killed



MASERU – A suspected love triangle has left an MP’s wife dead.

’Maretšepile Mabote, the wife of Malefane Mabote who is the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP for Tsikoane, was allegedly ambushed at her Tsikoane home by a hitman suspected to have been hired by her husband’s long-standing girlfriend.

The girlfriend, Bokang Mahlelehlele, is alleged to have been with the alleged hitman when he sprayed bullets on ’Maretšepile last Friday.

Deputy police spokesperson, Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka said Maretšepile’s teenage daughter responded to a knock on the door at around 10pm.

Inspector Mofoka said a man at the door asked the daughter to call his mother. She said as ’Maretšepile was approaching the door the man opened fire.

“Unfortunately when the deceased was at the passage to attend to her visitor, she was sprayed with a hail of bullets,” Inspector Mofoka said.

“She died on the spot.”

Inspector Mofoka said the suspect then fled in a 4+1 taxi that was waiting nearby. Alarm was raised and neighbours gave chase.

The neighbours were soon joined by the police. She said as the neighbours approached the car a man who the police suspect to be the hitman jumped out and disappeared into the darkness.

The police and the neighbours however caught up with the car.

Mahlelehlele, 32, whose affair with Mabote is said to be a public secret, was in the car. The driver was 27-year-old Matsoso Maekane. Mahlelehlele and Maekane were arrested and appeared in the Leribe magistrate’s court on Tuesday. They were remanded in custody.

The suspected hitman is still at large.

Inspector Mofoka said so far nothing links Mabote to the murder that has left the people of Tsikoane shocked. Mahlelehlele is a nursing lecturer at the National University of Lesotho while ’Maretšepile, 30, was a nurse at Motebang Hospital in Leribe.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced but Maretšepile’s grieving relatives are fuming.

thepost spoke to three relatives who all said they saw her death coming. They said they knew that Mabote and ’Maretšepile had several quarrels, some violent, about Mahlelehlele.

Mosa Ngatane, ’Maretšepile’s brother, said his sister lived a life of misery because of Mahlelehlele.

Ngatane said he is not surprised that Mahlelehlele is being implicated in the murder because she was openly having an affair with Mabote.

‘Makhomotso Ngatane, Ngatane’s wife and Maretšepile’s sister-in-law, said she knew Mahlelehlele as Mabote’s lover.

She also said she is not surprised Mahlelehlele has been arrested in connection with Maretšepile’s death.

thepost could not verify some of the allegations that ‘Makhomotso made about the way Mabote treated his wife.

She said Maretšepile once lived with her after a particularly nasty dispute with her husband.

Last night, Mabote said he was not in a position to speak about his wife’s death or the allegations that he was having an affair with Mahlelehlele.

“This is too much for me,” Mabote said, adding that he will only be able to talk to the media after his wife’s funeral.

“I will be ready for the interview after the funeral. I will even tell you the funeral date,” he said.

“We are still discussing the burial date as the family.”

In the aftermath of the incident some people have posted the picture of Mabote and Mahlelehlele on social media.

Staff Reporter

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