In yet another legal blow, the Ministry of Education was ordered to back pay the students of the University of Botswana their June-July allowance amounting to P3840.
The order was given by Lobatse High Court judge Key Dingake on Wednesday, following a decision by the UB Student Representative Council to take MoE to court after the ministry infringed the sponsorship agreement it had entered with the students’ community.
The facts of the case, according to the UB SRC vice president, Nico Selobilwe, are that the Ministry of Education took a decision to terminate the student living allowance over the winter vacation without consulting either the SRC or the student community even though Article 14 of the sponsorship contract states that there should not be any alteration or any addition of the agreement without consent of both parties.
In justifying their decision, the MoE had said they consulted the UB Vice Chancellor, Professor Bojosi Otlhogile, and informed him of their decision as the SRC had been suspended. However, Selobilwe clarified that during that time only, some of the SRC members had been suspended while there were others on duty who could have been notified. He said it was irrelevant for the ministry to inform Professor Botlhogile as he is not a party to the sponsorship agreement.
Selobilwe said during the case hearing, the ministry tried to justify its actions through Article 7.11b of the sponsorship agreement, which states that the MoE will be responsible for all the students’ maintenance, including tuition fees, and is entitled to increasing or reducing the students living allowance. Selobilwe said the ministry, however, misused this clause by terminating student leaving allowance even though it does not state so.
In passing judgment, Judge Key Dingake ordered the MoE to pay all the legal costs, including the registration costs. He then ordered the MoE to pay the UB off-campus student community their June and July living allowances, amounting to P3840 on or before the 31st of July.
Asked on how they would pay their legal representatives, Selobilwe said they intend to communicate with the student community to donate towards raising the amount owed to Kanjabanga and Associates, who were representing them in the case.
“Winning this case shows that the struggle continues and it shows that we will always do our best to make sure that justice is done to the students, we therefore ask them to support us fulfill their causes.”