Resignations at NUL: Setting the record straight

Resignations at NUL: Setting the record straight

I resigned from the National University of Lesotho (NUL), in mid-January, 2018. Some two weeks ago, Vice-Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao, told Members of Parliament that he had accepted the resignation of a staff member who was leaving the NUL to join the University of Swaziland (UNISWA).

He said the staff member was leaving NUL because salaries were better at UNISWA. His utterances were heard by many others who followed parliament’s proceedings, via various media. Clearly, the VC was referring either to the resignation of another member of staff who might have also resigned, recently, or to mine.

Anyhow, following the VC’s utterances in parliament, friends and acquaintances approached me to say they’d heard that the VC was referring to my resignation. Although, as many say, all indications are that, the VC was referring to me, I find it difficult to believe that he was. Here’s why.
A couple of weeks after my resignation, VC asked that we meet, in his office. In that meeting, he asked me why I was leaving. I told him it was because the University committee he chairs (Academic Staff Appointments Committee, ASAC) had messed up Department of which I am member, by rejecting a recommendation not to renew contract of colleague who had disappeared, for about one week, leaving students unattended.

In our discussion, VC showed himself to be in full support of ASAC’s decision, and went to extent of saying things that were, patently, not true, to justify ASAC’s decision. In a nutshell, the reason we have been given, for keeping the colleague, is that, he has a PhD.
He then said (in our meeting, in his office) that, I was leaving because of better salaries. As I had done, at beginning of our meeting, I told him that, I was not leaving because of NUL’s bad salaries but because my Department had been messed up.

If I’d allowed money to influence my decision whether to stay at NUL or not, as is being suggested, I had, at least, two opportunities to do so in the past.
Principles aside, I am too old to be gallivanting around southern Africa in search of good pay. I have worked at NUL for many years, for poor pay, and I have accepted I am going to retire into poverty. I am going to be 61, in May, 2018.
With less than five years left on my productive life, I’d be utterly potty to think that, working for good pay in Swaziland, for two years, would change conditions that await me on retirement.

Overall, personally, I have been deeply disappointed by Professor Mahao’s vice-chancellorship. We are constantly being told that, his administration values people with PhD’s because of the image they give NUL.
This is justification for blocking removal of people such as our colleague. We all know having PhD, or being professor, is not always synonymous with productivity.

Staff have to be valued based on their attitude towards work and output, and not solely on their qualifications, or titles.
Work at NUL is on the shoulders of many dedicated Masters’ degrees holders. Yes, we’d all love them all to acquire PhD’s, but we should not make them feel small and unvalued when they don’t want PhD’s, or when acquiring PhD’s is not possible, for any one of many good reasons.
They are among people who risked their jobs, and contributed hard-earned money towards legal fees, from 2011 to 2014, to fight, when the LCD government tried to wreck NUL, to make way for portfolio universities, in which politicians have financial interests.

People who are ruled by better pay may find it hard to accept that I am not going to Swaziland because of better pay but because I would like to work in an environment that allows me to work. This is not the case at NUL, at present.
Financial conditions under which governments have forced the University fulfil its public obligations, are truly objectionable. I support all efforts to secure funding for University.

But that should not be done dishonestly, by misrepresenting staff’s reasons for resigning from the University, particularly, when that misrepresentation (i) intentionally presents others as mercenaries; and (ii) has effect of concealing maladministration as cause of discontent.
Vice Chancellor should tell stories of, not only those who are leaving NUL because of bad salaries, but also stories of staff who resign because of his administration.

It is very true that, currently, NUL’s problems have to do with a very small government subvention that governments have reduced even further, at every opportunity. But NUL’s problems also have to do with abilities, attitudes, and competencies of those placed in the institution’s key positions.

l In the interests of fairness, we have allowed Professor Mahao to respond to the issues raised in this article. thepost will carry his response next week.

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