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Friday 18 October 2019
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Research commission faces collapse

…as workers resign en-masse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namibia’s research body has been left decapitated during the past months after workers resigned en masse due to job security fears.  Heightened by the lack of response to their plea against budget cuts, fund freezes and ignored salary increment demands staff members appear to have lost hope in the institution and are leaving for greener pastures.
Never before has this happened since the inception of the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) and it amounts to the passing of research in the country, which could herald the dawning of the country’s premium research body.
There have also been complaints about low wages, unattractive job conditions, insufficient funds for research programs, a lack of coordination among different research organisations, insufficient links with industry and a sense that the government has put research and innovation activities at the bottom of the list of priorities in a general budget squeeze.
The Patriot can reveal that since former CEO Dr. Eino Mvula left in May 2017, a host of his subordinates followed in his footsteps.
General Manager: Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Coordination & Support Dr. Diina Shuuluka who was the second-in-charge at NCRST is part of the group that has jumped ship.
Shuuluka already tendered her resignation and is currently serving her notice period. Her last day at work is on 30 September. Shuuluka did not respond when questioned about her resignation.
The mass exits have led to the silencing of the commission’s communications team.
Head: Corporate Communication and Marketing Ockert Jansen and his assistant Iyaloo Kandjabanga have both left the commission.
Quality Assurance Officer Helena Shindadhi, Maria Andimba (acting Head: Legal Advise & Company Secretariat) and Albanus Sindano (Programs Officer) have all left the commission.
The commission had complained that the N$11 million budget allocation from government is not enough. In fact, employees have been informed that the money affairs of the institution is so dire that it will only sustain operations until the end of this month.
Several workers who spoke to this publication revealed that the lack of funding at the institution and the delayed implementation of salary increments are the predominant reasons that sparked the mass exit.
“People are scared, hence they went for greener pastures. There is also not much going on in terms of operations because the only projects being worked on are those that are externally funded and those we have signed through MoUs with our partners.
We are underpaid compared to our counterparts at other companies and the management has been stalling the regrading exercise,” lamented one of the workers who opted not to be named.
Another employee who have since left the institution also spoke to this publication: “Government is not serious with industrialisation because it is impossible to achieve industrialisation without research.
If we are serious about Vision 2030, we need to pay more attention to research and innovation and not use the economy as an excuse.”
NCRST has been a headache for the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation permanent secretary had told the management of the company to ensure that salaries of workers are prioritised on top of any other costs.
Enid Keramen is the current Acting Chief Executive Officer of the commission.
Namibia is amongst the 30 lowest spenders on research and development in the world.
The African Union has set a target of 1% of GDP invested on R&D, but data available to the UIS show that only three sub-Saharan African countries are close to this target: South Africa, Kenya and Senegal (around 0.8% in all three countries).
According to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, Namibia research and development spending as a percentage of GDP stands at a meagre 0.3%.
When it comes to human resources, Namibia has 143 researchers per million inhabitants.
Bloated structure
The Patriot understands that the commission’s top structure is overly bloated.
The commission currently employs 16 managers. Some of the managers do not have any subordinates.
“We are pleading with the line Ministry to appoint a competent Chief Executive Officer urgently. We demand that the current Acting CEO Ms Enid Keramen MUST be removed. Under her leadership, everything is collapsing due to poor leadership.
The lack of leadership has led to poor organizational culture. Management is not leading by example, they come and go from office as they please and they are consistently on leave, from annual leave to sick leave.
Thus, as employees of NCRST who have the love and passion of this institution, we can’t allow these acts to go-on or we cannot sit idle seeing all these corrupt practices under the leadership of the current Acting CEO,” lamented the workers in a petition seen by this newspaper.
Currently, states the petition, there are 15 vacancies which needs to be filled.
“We demand for transparency in the organization and filling up of positions.
Certain divisions have been given opportunity to act in senior roles, while others are just obligated to do the job of their superior unofficially. Staff morale is affected badly resulting in resignations and complacency.
Further, we demand for vacancies to be advertised internally before external to allow the employees to apply,” demanded the workers.
There are also operational challenges which are crippling the institution, the workers said.
The commission’s Biotech Laboratory has been inaugurated but up to now it is not operational as consumables and other items still need to be procured.
The Patriot also understands that strategic documents such as Infrastructure Strategy, Space Science Policy were submitted to the Board but nothing has been done as far as implementation is concerned.

Employees who resigned during the past 12 months

Alushe Nditya (Manager; Resource Mobilisation & Grant Managemen
Mwangala Nalisa (Senior Biotech)
Jekonia Haufiku (Senior Program Officer in RM & GM Division)
Katrina Hilundwa (Program Officer Resource Mobilisation & Grant Management)
Maria Andimba (Legal Clerk)
Ockert Jansen (Head; Corporate Communication & Marketing)
Frieda Naimhwa (Human Resources Officer)
Albanus Sindano (Program Officer in Human, Institutional Development and Science Promotion divison)
Hendrik Mukoko (Estate & Fleet Management)
Koviao Ngaringobe (Corporate Runner/Driver)
Iyaloo Kandjabanga (Office Assistant in Corporate Communication & Markerting Division)
Dr Diina Shuuluka (General Manager; Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Coordination Support)

 




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