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Majoro mum on calls to fire Mochoboroane

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro has refused to comment on demands by National University of Lesotho (NUL) students for him to fire Development Planning Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, and National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) director, Florina Rakeketsi.

Mr Mochoboraone has also said he will not dignify the students’ calls for his ouster with a response.

Students want the duo fired over last month’s ill-fated NMDS decision to cut their allowances by half. The move precipitated student protests on 16 June 2022. In the ensuing standoff with police, one student, Kopano Makutoane, was gunned down. Several others were injured in the skirmishes.

In the aftermath of Mr Makutoane’s death, the NUL Students’ Representative Council (SRC) gave Dr Majoro two months to dismiss the two.

The students vowed that should the premier failure to fire the duo, they would take matters into their own hands. It is not clear what action they would take.

But almost a month later, Dr Majoro has not acted on the students’ demands. In an interview, the premier’s press attaché, Buda Moseme, said, “the prime minister will not comment on the students’ demands. He has nothing to say”.

On his part, Mr Mochoboroane said he while was aware of the calls for his ouster, he would not dignify them with a response.

“I’ve no time to comment on such petty issues. Neither will I entertain such calls,” he said. Ms Rakeketsi was unreachable on her mobile phone for comment on the matter.

NUL SRC president Tumo Tsanyane gave Dr Majoro an ultimatum to dismiss Mr Mochoboroane and Ms Rakeketsi during Mr Makutoane’s burial at his Quthing home on 3 July 2022.

Addressing mourners, Mr Tsanyane said should the premier fail to fire the duo, “we’ll fire them ourselves”. He however, did not say how they would achieve this since this is the prerogative of the prime minister.

Ntate Majoro, we are saying Ntate Mochoborane and M’e Flory (Rakeketsi) must just go,” Mr Tsanyane said.

“If you fail to fire them, we will fire them ourselves. We are giving you two months and if you don’t fire them, we are going to do so ourselves. We’re surprised that the two are still at work. It is clear that they are not there to serve the interests of the students. They have dismally failed in their duties.

“The 16th of June 2022 was the most painful day for us. I went to the Development Planning ministry to enquire why NMDS had decided to cut our allowances and I was told that the ministry would not reserve its decision.

“That’s why the students went on strike. It is unfortunate that Makutoane lost his life during the protests. Student allowances are a contractual obligation and they cannot just be cut as you please.”

Mr Tsanyane also called for the arrest and prosecution of the police officers who gunned down Mr Makutoane. He said this should not be difficult since the police authorities knew the officers who had been deployed to deal with the student protests that day.

Meawnhile, police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, said there were plans to charge six officers with murder and assault. They had since been suspended from work, he said in an interview.

He however, could not release their names until they had been formally charged in court.

“I confirm that six officers who were on duty during the NUL students’ strike have been charged with murder and assault. We have referred their docket to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for direction,” Senior Supt Mopeli said.

He added that more arrests were expected as investigations were ongoing.