The Ministry of Education & Development Skills (MoE) has found itself entangled in yet another legal battle over vacation allowances.
Just a few weeks ago, the ministry lost a legal battle to students of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology over vacation allowances.
This time around it is in a legal combat with the University Of Botswana Student Representative Council (SRC) over the same issue of the student’s vacation allowances.
A few weeks ago the MoE was ordered to pay the Limkokwing students their leave allowances for the month of June as an urgent matter.
In passing judgment, Justice Dibotelo said it was proper for the Ministry to meet its promise that it would pay the Limkokwing students as guaranteed in a letter dated 1st June 2009.
The UB SRC president, Nico Seloilwe, said the reason they are suing the ministry is that they were never told that the allowances would be stopped during the winter vacations. He said they had held four meetings with the MoE trying to settle the matter cordially but the negotiations bore no fruit, hence they decided to have the law to intervene.
Seloilwe said they approached the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Golebanye Setume, and reminded them of their previous statement in which the Public Relations Officer in the MoE, Nomza Zuze, had said it would not be fair to give Limkokwing students allowances while the UB students received none. He said despite this point the words fell on deaf ears.
“Setume explained that they assumed that since they wrote to the Vice Chancellor on 27th March 2009 informing him of the MoE’s decision to cease payment of vacation allowances, they assumed he had informed the SRC, yet the Vice Chancellor never notified them.
Seloilwe said that after negotiations failed, they served the MoE with a demand letter last week Thursday on the 25th of June, through their legal representatives, Kanjabanga and Associates. The letter demanded that the MoE pay the UB students their vacation living allowances, failure to which they should give feed back within 48 hours or else Kanjabanga & Associates would file a case with the High Court at Lobatse.
Nomza Zuze confirmed that the MoE had received the demand letter.
“What I can confirm is that indeed we have received communication from Kanjabanga and Associates, but everything regarding the issue is for our legal experts.”
As Seloilwe said, the SRC hopes to file their case with the High Court in Lobatse on the 3rd July 2009.
“What I would like to assure the students community is that we are doing all we can to address issues affecting their welfare. We will never give up.”
However, the UB SRC seems to be fighting wars on many fronts as, besides facing financial constraints for the legal battle, they are also faced with internal fighting that has seen the indefinite suspension, with immediate effect, of the SRC president, MacDonald Rakgare.
The SRC is so broke that it has made an arrangement that it would hopefully pay Kanjabanga and Associates in the near future after generating some income from festivals.
Despite the SRC Vice President denying the matter, saying that as far as the SRC is concerned they are united and pushing the issue together, a letter that reached Sunday Standard confirmed the allegations.┬á
The letter, dated 29th June 2009 and addressed to the SRC President bore the subject: SUSPENSION OF THE SRC PRESIDENT and it goes on to state that the president is suspended indefinitely pending a disciplinary hearing.
The letter, which was signed by all except three council members, states that the president is suspended because the SRC took a resolution to take the MoE to court, a decision upheld by every council member in a meeting held on the 22nd June 2009 and of which the SRC president was part of.
Says the letter: “Contrary to this decision you, on Monday the 29th June 2009, on your 1300hrs to 1500hrs show on Yarona FM, uttered contrary sentiments to our agreement to the extent of you alleging that you do not agree with the SRC and stating that you are not taking the Ministry to court as per the agreement. The agreement was taken in your presence and other SRC members were shocked to learn that you shared different sentiments when in the media.”
The letter went on to refer to article 22.5 (vi) of the SRC constitution saying the president is suspended indefinitely with immediate effect pending his disciplinary hearing. The letter further states that he shall be alerted of the place and dates of his disciplinary hearing.
Contacted for comment, the SRC president MacDonald Rakgaare, who is popularly known as Chilly Boy for his Wednesday Sudden Death Sport show on Yarona FM, said he could not comment on the matter, saying he has no show as indicated in the afore mentioned letter.
Owen Rampha, the Yarona FM programs manager, confirmed that Rakgare had no show at all at the times mentioned in the letter, saying, “To the best of my knowledge he was not working.”
Sources closer to the SRC have asserted that there is too much internal back stabbing within the SRC, saying the grounds to suspend the SRC president are a product of malicious propaganda to ouster the president.
They said a certain Molema Molema, who is a former minister of Academic Affairs but lost this year’s presidential primary elections to Rakgare, is the one perpetrating the internal feuding.