While other state owned enterprise bosses fear the prospect of being unemployed should their employment contracts not be renewed at the end of their terms, those in the top echelons of the Namibia University of Science and Technology’s(NUST) have no such worries.Provisions in the institution’s Human Resource Code makes room for Tjivikua and his deputies Dr. Andrew Niikondo (vice rector for academic affairs) and Gert Gunzel(vice rector for finance and administration) to be employed elsewhere within the structures of the university if their contracts are not renewed. According to the code: “A Namibian citizen who was appointed as Rector(vice-chancellor after the transformation) and who is for whatever reason not reappointed after serving the institution, will be offered a position and a salary package equivalent to the academic post of Director/Professor in either the academic or administrative structure.”
Sources within the university have questioned why the leadership is treated differently from the other employees. “Why must they have their bread buttered on both sides, it is not fair. Where have you seen such provision whereby a CEO is moved to another department of the institution if the employment contract is not renewed? What is so special about this institution that it can get away with such acts?” questioned the source who chose to remain anonymous fearing victimization. This provision has been in the code from as far back as 1998. “This provision is solely meant to ensure that skills are not lost to the institution by redeploying the officials whose contracts are not renewed. Some of the officials came up through the academic structure so it just fair that they are retained instead of being kicked out into the street,”
Tjivikua who has been at the helm of the institution since 1995, is amongst the longest serving SOE bosses. Tjivikua did not get drawn into discussions regarding the provisions of the code when he responded to questions about his position. “Policies in any institution or organisation are created to serve as primary tools of governance. Policies serve the interest of institutions, not individuals,” said Tjivikua. This publication specifically wanted to know about the steps that were followed to come up with a provision of such nature. There are also allegations levelled against Tjivikua that he vehemently pushed for the insertion of the clause so that he can have his bread buttered on both sides.
“Our policies are approved by the University’s Council and are benchmarked against best practices internationally. Therefore, the allegation that the “Vice-Chancellor specifically pushed for the insertion of that clause” is simply false and unfounded,” Tjivikua said in his defense. NUST is currently operating without a Council after the higher education minister dissolved the Council last year. The Council members were instructed to stop attending to Council activities in November 2015. There are also further allegations that Tjivikua is leading an internal crusade to have his wife, Neveara Olivier, appointed to take up the vacant position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation.
Olivier currently serves as the NUST’s institutional planner. Tjivikua responded to these allegations saying: “The established procedures will be followed to recruit a suitably qualified candidate in a transparent manner.” Asked whether the situation whereby NUST continues to operate without a Council concerns him, Tjivikua referred this newspaper to Higher Education, Training and Innovation minister Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi who is the appointing authority. The minister is still in the process of the replacing the previous council. The volatile council was so divided that Council members were constantly at loggerheads in Council meetings, in some meetings members even instituted walkouts. The local media reported last year that Kandjii-Murangi was not impressed with the conduct of the council. “The Council I will put in place is one that should provide overall leadership, supervision and guidance. Obviously one has to look at the mandate of the institution and based on that you appoint suitably qualified and experienced people to direct and guide the activities of the institution.”