Nust VC recruitment to be stopped

07 June 2019 | Education

Higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi says it will not be in the best interest of the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) if the current council recruits the new vice-chancellor.

When Namibian Sun contacted her for comment the minister said there were other reasons why they had to abandon this hastened process of appointment and do things right.

“This is a national institution that the whole nation has an interest in whoever comes. They have to come with a well-laid-out foundation that spells out the critical things that are expected of them,” she said.

The recruitment of a new vice-chancellor started on 21 September when an advertisement was placed in local newspapers.

Five candidates were shortlisted for the position. They are: University of Namibia academics Frednand 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.

In a letter written on 30 May to Nust council chairperson Esi Shimming-Chase, Kandjii-Murangi said the process took longer than expected.

She reminded the council members that their term ends in August this year and that she is already recruiting new council members.

“It is not good corporate governance for an outgoing council to recruit an incoming CEO,” she said.

In the same letter she also said Nust directors and deans had written to her to raise concern over “the unhealthy relationship and collegial climate at Nust”.

The minister said she got the impression that the deans and directors were not properly informed about the recruitment process.

“The concerns they highlighted include, but are not limited to, the following: The institution's management style, their exclusion in the recruitment process of the Nust vice-chancellor and the continuation of the recruitment of expatriates at all tiers of Nust leadership,” she said.

The new VC is required to hold a doctorate in natural science, technology, engineering or mathematics from an internationally recognised university, with at least 10 years of executive leadership experience in higher education and a deep understanding of the operations and affairs of a university.



Clashes

The recruitment process has been plagued by controversy since the departure of long-serving vice-chancellor Tjama Tjivikua, who resigned in April this year.

Tjivikua said he was not interested in an extended stay as head of the institution.

This was despite the council extending his stay until June. His contract was initially extended from September to December 2018, and then once again from January 2019 until June 2019.

Tjivikua has accused Kandjii-Murangi of gross interference in the running of the institution.

He also warned Namibians to be concerned about the minister's alleged involvement and interference in the governance and management of the university.

In his letter of resignation to the Nust council, Tjivikua claimed that the minister had directed that he must vacate his position at the end of that month “in order to ensure a smooth transition without interference”.

Tjivikua also accused council members of willingly dancing to Kandjii-Murangi's tune.

According to him some council members have sided with staff members to the detriment of university management.

“A case in point is the matter of unresolved grievances and pending disciplinary hearings, whose delay was caused by the minster's directive to suspend all disciplinary actions against members associated with her during my extended tenure,” he said recently.

The minister has denied these allegations.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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