Unam dogged by fraud claims

Unam staff members have accused the institution’s management of trying to sweep fraudulent activities involving its HR director under the rug.

17 September 2021 | Education

MATHIAS HAUFIKU



WINDHOEK



The University of Namibia (Unam) is facing criticism from its staffers for allegedly refusing to take action against one of its directors accused of fraudulently accepting a job application after the deadline had lapsed.

A report released in July 2020 fingered the university’s human resource director, Reginald Izaks, of having meddled and redirected the recruitment process of regional student support coordinators in Tsumeb and Swakopmund. Applications for the positions closed on 31 March 2020.

“On 8 April 2020, Ms [Doreen] Zamue (HR officer) forwarded an application of Ms [Leticia] Willemse (nee Fransman) which was forwarded to her by her director (HR). This application was initially emailed to Dr [Maggy] Beukes-Amiss after the closing date of the applications, who then forwarded the application to Mr [Rodney] Cloete and carbon copied Mr Izaks,” reads the report, drafted by assistant registrar Anna-Marie Biwa.

Biwa’s report was written to the university’s pro-vice chancellor for administration, finance and resource mobilisation, Dr Ellen Namhila.

Following the shortlisting process, interviews were held on 15 June 2020 and minutes of the interviews were signed off by Biwa three weeks later.



Over-qualified

According to Biwa, Izaks refused to sign the minutes because Willemse was not shortlisted.

She was allegedly not shortlisted because she was deemed to be over-qualified for the position. This apparently did not sit well with Izaks, who raised concerns about the omission, indicating that there are no rules preventing an over-qualified candidate from being shortlisted.

Izaks, the report stated, wanted the entire process to be restarted.

The recruitment process was eventually abandoned and no appointments took place after the university underwent a restructuring process.

The restructuring exercise and business process re-engineering resulted in the closure of all Unam’s 10 regional centres. The university’s management subsequently parked the report and the matter was swept under the disciplinary carpet.



Excuses

At least three Unam insiders informed Namibian Sun that there are clandestine plans to abandon the probe into Izaks.

“Following the restructuring process last year, which phased out regional centres, we understand management wants to use that as an excuse not to pursue the matter. Our view, however, is that this cannot be done retrospectively,” said one insider, who chose anonymity.

Namhila on Wednesday confirmed that a complaint had been lodged “through our internal processes”.

“As is the case with all complaints, an internal investigation was conducted independently and a report is at an advanced stage of compilation,” she said.

“Because this matter is not concluded, we cannot provide any further details about this matter at this stage as it would risk violating our policies and the rule of law.”

Email exchanges

In August last year, the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) shop steward at the university, Muree Tjiueza, wrote an email to Namhila informing her about complaints by employees regarding the recruitment matter, which he labelled an “unfair labour practice”.

“This process by the director is not only fraudulent... but it demoralises the internal employees and deprives them of equal opportunity,” Tjiueza said.

"The perceived protection of the HR director by the university management cannot be ignored any longer at the expense of the entire university populace.”

At the time, Nantu wanted Izaks to be placed on suspension due to the seriousness of the allegations.

“Given the previous petition by the university staff members via Nantu on how Reginald Izaks has been violating the university recruitment policy, it has now become clear that a lot can be uncovered through an investigation,” he said.

The union again wrote to Namhila during March demanding an update and requesting the outcome of the matter. It also threatened to submit an official grievance against Namhila.

Namhila responded days later saying “the investigation into the allegations has been finalised and it is receiving legal attention”.

When approached for comment this week, Muree refused to comment, saying: “Please ask the management because we are also waiting for answers”.

Just doing my job

Yesterday, Izaks said he was simply doing his job and applying the rules and procedures as is stipulated. He added that he has given his own report to the university authorities on the allegations levelled against him.

“You can speak to the university authorities about this. I need to do my job at the end of the day and am I not allowed to question work that crosses my table?

"I simply applied the rules and regulations, I did not divert anything,” he said.

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