A legal storm is brewing between the University of Botswana (UB) and its former legal advisors.
The UB is accused of failing to acknowledge the legal advisors for graduation despite fulfilling the prerequisite for their courses.
The pair, Goemeone Mogomotsi and Onthatile Moeti, is now suing the university after being told they had not completed the prerequisite to their courses after only choosing to do course work.
Mogomotsi is currently employed as a senior research fellow for environmental law and policy at UB, while Moeti is employed as a lecturer in the department of law in the faculty of social sciences. Up to the end of September 2018, the duo were employed as legal officers in the department of legal services.
According to their court documents, they are accusing the university of not sticking to the academic contract by not allowing them to graduate though they had fulfilled the required credits.
In Mogomotsi’s founding affidavit, he submits that he and Moeti were admitted for a degree in Master of Arts in Development Studies, which they completed in December 2018 and were waiting for conferment for the qualification in the graduation ceremony scheduled for October 10, 2019.
He explained that the problem surfaced after they had been exempted from other courses because they were similar to what they had done in their previous course of study.
“It is critical to note that prior to being granted the exemptions from the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, Moeti and I were requested by the then Head of the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, Dr Bashi Mothusi to obtain confirmation from the Postgraduate Programmes Coordinator in the Department of Sociology that the courses we were seeking to be exempted from were required for completion of the degree of Master of Arts in Development Studies,” he said.
Mogomotsi further said they failed to meet with the coordinator in person, so they resorted to electronic mail and that on October 10, 2017 they received communication explaining that they were expected to do some courses.
He pointed out that he and Moeti then made several attempts to meet the coordinator over seven months with a view to seek clarity on the provision pertaining to the core courses in the 2017-2018 Postgraduate Academic Calendar without any success.
“Some time in late March or early April 2018, having failed to meet the coordinator for more than eight months or so, we then sought a meeting with another official whereat we informed him that we wanted to find out if our interpretation of the calendar with regard to course choices, course combination and particularly what were core courses and options in terms of the calendar was correct,” he said.
Now the two legal minds are seeking court redress after not being given clarity on their graduation. In their legal pursuit they urge that the matter be treated as an urgent application for a declaratory order stemming from the contractual relationship of the academic nature between them and the university.
Further, an order declaring that the email of the university official dated the April 11, 2018 clarifying the contractual obligations of parties was binding on the university, and therefore constitutes an official interpretation of the structure of the degree of Master of Arts in Development Studies by coursework only.
Mogomotsi and Moeti also seek to obtain an urgent declaratory order confirming that they have met and satisfied UB’s requirement for the award of the degree of Master of Arts in Development Studies.Lastly they seek for an order directing the university to confer the degree of Master of Arts in Development Studies to them during the first graduation ceremony of October 2019.