Chevening scholarships: Interview panellists revealed amid storm
The three panellists who presided over the interviews and awards are from the United Kingdom (UK), Zambia and Namibia – with the latter being Damara, Moore revealed.
The UK panellist is the deputy high commissioner and the Zambian works as a political and scholarship officer at the mission, while the Namibian is a Chevening alumnus.
The high commission came under heavy scrutiny this week when it announced 13 awardees for the scholarship, with over 90% of them from the Aawambo tribe.
The mission was accused, especially on social media, of being insensitive towards Namibia’s ethnic demographics – suggesting the scholarships should have been proportionally distributed among members of various local ethnicities.
But speaking on The Evening Review last night, Moore said: “I can’t think of any reason we would favour any political grouping. Ethnic identities of the applicants are completely and utterly irrelevant”.
He added: “There’s no part to the application form that asks for ethnicity. It’s a question of what nationality you are, so [these] people are Namibian. Being British, I have absolutely no idea whether a surname is Owambo, Herero or anything else”.
True face of Namibia
American-based Namibian human rights activist Fillemon Shikomba was the first to sound alarms over the skewed demographics of the latest awarded scholarships on social media.
Writing on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “Foreign missions need to adjust themselves and incorporate our national agenda when they roll out opportunities.
“The list of Chevening beneficiaries does not reflect the true face of Namibia. It does not look like the diversity that exists in Namibia. And that should be corrected.”
On the show yesterday, Moore said the scholarship programme’s requirements would remain as they currently are.
“I don’t think there’s anything to be done, actually. The process is open to anybody who qualifies [as per the requirements], starting with possessing a bachelor’s degree,” he said.
“The suggestion that we sought to favour one particular ethnic group is quite derogatory to us. It is worth pointing out that this year, the Namibian who was on the panel is a Damara, not Wambo.”