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Teachers’ unions want Minister out



MASERU – A COALITION of teachers’ associations this week demanded the ouster of newly appointed Education Minister Professor Ntoi Rapapa.

The teachers’ associations sent their petition to Prime Minister Sam Matekane.

The petitioners are the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), the Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU), and the Lesotho Schools Principal Association (LESPA).

Their spokesman, the LAT secretary general Letsatsi Ntsibolane, was in a combative mood when he spoke to thepost insisting they are not happy with Professor Rapapa’s appointment.

Ntsibolane said they are “aggressively pushing for the removal of Professor Rapapa” from his ministerial position.

“We are not happy with the government’s decision to appoint Professor Rapapa as the new education minister yet he messed up the ministry in 2017 when he was a minister,” Ntsibolane said.

“People voted for change, how will he bring change yet he failed dismally in the past?” he asked.

The teachers’ associations wrote to Matekane this week expressing their unhappiness about the appointment.

“We strongly believe that you will selflessly serve this beautiful country,” the teachers told Matekane in their letter dated November 7.

“As a matter of urgency the education minister should address the pending demands entailed in the 2019 industrial action agreement,” they said.

They said the pending demands include the implementation of Phase Two of the 2019 salary career and salary structure.

They also want the matter of pending promotions for teachers which was in the agreement addressed.

They also want their salary arrears paid.

The teachers said they are still pushing for a 50/50 lump sum take home upon retirement and the appointment of principals on permanent and pensionable terms.

They also want the ministry to fill in frozen vacancies and resume the payment of the hardship allowance to teachers as well as the subvention funds for schools.

Ntsibolane said they have now embarked on a programme to persuade the government to reshuffle Prof Rapapa from the education ministry.

He said the prime minister had pleaded with everyone to work hard in their relevant fields.

“We should be given another minister and Professor Rapapa should be removed.”

He said they had hopes that things would change this time after the government trimmed cabinet from 37 ministers to 15.

Responding to the plea that Professor Rapapa be afforded a second chance, Ntsibolane said “we do not buy anything about Professor Rapapa”.

“We do not have room to give someone a second chance (when he is heading) such a crucial ministry,” he said.

Ntsibolane said Professor Rapapa had failed to deliver when he was education minister.

He blamed Prof Ntoi for the ‘no work no pay’ principle that saw some teachers suffering and wallowing in poverty when he was minister.

Ntsibolane said there are still some teachers who have not been paid their salaries following that strike in 2017.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Professor Rapapa said it is not up to him to decide if he should be removed or not.

“That discretion can only be made by the King or the Prime Minister as they are the ones who appointed me,” he said.

He said he will also study the progress which was made by the ministry in trying to resolve the teachers’ grievances after he left and take it up from there.

Nkheli Liphoto

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