Nust spat rages on

Higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi has been accused of interfering in the constitutional rights of university council members and abusing her powers.

12 June 2019 | Education

Nust council chairperson Esi Schimming-Chase has hit back at higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi, accusing her of interfering in the constitutional rights of council members and egregiously abusing her powers.

This followed a letter from Kandjii-Murangi on 13 May in which she said it will not be in the best interest of the university if the current council recruits the new vice-chancellor. In a five-page letter, Schimming-Chase responded to the minister, saying her announcement that only external members of the council will be allowed to select the next vice-chancellor violates the Nust Act and statutes, as well as the Public Enterprises Governance Act and good governance .

“That is why I advised in my earlier correspondence to you, that you share your concerns at a properly constituted Nust meeting and allow the council members to deliberate, without interfering in their constitutional rights.

“To suggest that you can direct council members on what to do, or direct council on what to do is an egregious abuse of your powers, and flies in the face of the provisions of the Namibian constitution as the supreme law as well as the Nust Act,” Schimming-Chase said her letter on Monday.

She has also informed the minister that a council resolution to cancel the re-advertisement of the VC position is “legally invalid” and a breach of every notion of good governance. Ironically, the minister is of the view that “it is not good corporate governance for an outgoing council to recruit an incoming CEO”.

The recruitment of the VC has been clouded in secrecy and controversy since it kicked off on 21 September last year when an advertisement was placed in local newspapers. Five candidates were shortlisted for the position - University of Namibia (Unam) academics Frednard Gideon and Erold Naomab (the only Namibians), Nigerian national Abraham Ogwu, Botswana national Otlogetswe Totolo and Turkish national Said Irandoust. The position was again advertised in March, amidst a spat between the council and the higher education minister, who reminded them that their term comes to an end at the end of August and that she is already recruiting their replacements.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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