Katjavivi breaks silence on Nust

20 June 2019 | Education

The turmoil at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) has taken another turn with the university's chancellor and National Assembly speaker, Dr Peter Katjavivi, entering the fray.

Katjavivi said in a statement yesterday he is “disappointed”.

He emphasised that the university has rules and guidelines that should govern its existence. “It is thus our hope that the institution will rise and shine above all the current challenges,” he said.

This followed the sudden resignation of Nust council chair Esi Shimming-Chase and council member Markus von Jeney last week.

The resignations came amidst a fight between the outgoing council and higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi over the appointment of a new vice-chancellor.

“Usually, the exercise of identifying the vice-chancellor of any university is done by a search committee. This is purposely designed this way to prevent bias, any form of interference and to ensure that the emerging personality meets qualities to uplift the performance of the institution. The search committee is formed and tasked by the existing university council,” Katjavivi said yesterday. In recent weeks Shimming-Chase and Kandjii-Murangi have exchanged blows over who has the last say on matters relating to governance at the university. The biggest bone of contention has been the replacement of long-serving vice-chancellor Tjama Tjivikua, who stepped down in April.

Last month Kandjii-Murangi told the council in a letter dated 13 May that the recruitment process must halted, pointing out that “it will not be in the best interest of the university if the current council recruits an incoming VC”.

This in particular seemed to have annoyed Shimming-Chase who told the minister in her strongly worded response that this violates the Nust Act and statutes, as well as the Public Enterprises Governance Act and good governance.

The minister also informed the council, whose term comes to an end in August, that she is already recruiting new council members.

Shimming-Chase also accused the minister of interfering in the constitutional rights of council members and egregiously abusing her powers.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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