Thursday, July 18, 2024

UB allowances query set for Special Appeals Board

The case in which the Ministry of Education contests Lobatse High Court Justice, Key Dingake’s order to repay UB students their winter vacation allowances amounting to P3,840 will be heard by a Special Appeals Board tomorrow (Monday). This comes after a lengthy legal battle prompted by UB student representatives taking the MoE to court for breach of the sponsorship agreement between the students and the ministry.

Nico Selobilwe, vice president of the Students Council, said that the Ministry of Education took a decision to terminate the students’ 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 to the agreement without the consent of both parties.

Justifying their decision, the MoE had said they consulted the UB Vice Chancellor, Prof. Bojosi Otlhogile, and informed him of their decision as the SRC had been suspended. He pointed out that during that time, only some of the SRC members had been suspended while there were others who could have been notified. He said it was irrelevant for the ministry to inform Otlhogile 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 it is entitled to increase or reduce the student living allowance. Selobilwe said the ministry misused this clause by terminating the student living allowance even though it did not say so.

Passing judgment, Justice Dingake ordered the MoE to pay all the legal costs, including the registration costs. He also ordered the MoE to pay the UB off-campus students their June and July living allowances amounting to P3,840 on or before 31 July.

MoE contested this judgment arguing that it could not afford to raise the 21 million required to honour the judgment as it did not budget for it. Dingake advised both parties to reach a compromise and prevent further financial embarrassment.

The Court of Appeal meets twice a year. Should the contesting parties fail to reach a compromise, the case could be adjourned to January next year.

Tomorrow, both parties will make no further presentations and the Special Appeals Board set up to address the issue will make a judgment based on previous presentations. The judgment will be final and no party will be permitted to challenge it.

Selobilwe thanked the student community for their financial support which enabled them to pay Collen Mudara, of Kanjabanga and Associates, P28,000 of the P50,000 owed.


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