Bloodied noses as NCRST bosses fight

11 January 2021 | Education

MATHIAS HAUFIKU

WINDHOEK

Namibia Commission of Research, Science and Technology's (NCRST) top leadership is stuck in a vicious fight between the board and acting chief executive officer Enid Keramen.

The board suspended Keramen with full pay last Thursday, two days after she wrote a scathing letter to the board chair Nortin Titus questioning the authority of the board to take decisions that are legally binding and the board's decision to terminate her role as acting CEO. It is not clear if the letter was the reason for her suspension.

“Your suspension has been necessitated to enable the Commissioners to conduct an unhindered investigation into allegations of gross insubordination and/or dishonesty, amongst others,” reads the suspension letter handed to Keramen on Friday.

Keramen also serves as the research council's substantive head of the legal department. She has been acting since June 2017.

Namibian Sun understands Keramen did not take lightly to a 17 December 2020 board resolution to terminate her role as acting CEO. She was informed a day after the board meeting that her acting duties were terminated.

In her letter to Titus written last week, she disputed the board's decision to remove her from her role as acting CEO because “the term of the commissioners has lapsed”.

“Your unilateral and unprocedural resolution taken purportedly at an ordinary board of commissioners meeting, ostensibly forms the subject matter of this written response,” Keramen wrote in her response to the board decision. Keramen said the board decision is besieged by illegalities, maintaining her stance that the term of the board had expired, therefore they have no authority to make decisions without legal backing.

“You may be wondering and even perplexed as to why I would raise the issue of your authority, but your resolution take on 17 December 2020, is clearly ultra vires your powers, because according to an official letter from the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation (MHETI). On two occasions first on 10 September 2020 and then again by way of reiteration, on 16 September, in writing, it was stated that your terms of office would expire within three months,” she said.

She added: “Your authority to take legally-binding decisions on behalf of the NCRST, has effectively lapsed.”

Keramen's fights are not only confined to the board, she has also clashed with workers in the recent past.

In June 2018 NCRST demanded that Keramen be removed due to poor leadership skills.

They claim that under her leadership operations have collapsed and there has been a poor organizational culture as well as mass resignations. Reached for comment yesterday, Keramen only said: “I am not at liberty to discuss organizational matters with the public.”



Ministry flip-flops

Namibian Sun has seen a letter dated 16 September 2020 written by MHETI executive director Dr. Alfred van Kent to his counterpart at the public enterprises ministry Annascy Mwanyangapo informing her that the term of office of the NCRST board would expire in three months.

This means the term of the board lapsed on 16 December 2020. In an email conversation seen by this publication, that took place between Van Kent and Keramen last Friday, the executive director changed his stance on the expiry dates of the board.

“The term of office of the board only lapses this year. We started the process of replacing the boards of NCHCE, NQA, NTA, NSFAF and NCRST last year. You have their appointment letters. As ED I am not the appointing authority of boards,” he told Keramen.

According to Van Kent, the new process to appoint boards takes anything between six and eight months.

It is understood that the current manager for business support services of the research council, Albertina Ngurare, will be the new acting head of NCRST.

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