….after 23 years at the helm of NUST
Namibia University of Science and Technology vice-chancellor Professor Tjama Tjivikua will step down when his term expires at the end of this month.
He is Namibia’s longest serving SOE boss. Tjivikua has been the Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia since its inception in 1995.
“The Vice Chancellor has no intention to continue as Vice Chancellor. He is officially not in the running for the position of Vice Chancellor. He will no longer be vice Chancellor after his term ends,” said NUST Council chairperson Advocate Esi Schimming-Chase this week.
The University’s Act makes provision for him to stay on if he so wish, but the The Patriot has been informed that Tjivikua has made it categorically clear that his time at the institution is up.
Critics accuse the long-serving Tjivikua of being authoritarian and running the institution like his own fiefdom. Undoubtedly, his biggest achievement was transforming the institution from a technikon to a fully-fledged university.
However, he will continue in the position of acting vice-chancellor until a new Vice Chancellor is appointed. “The Joint Search Committee met with the recruitment agency appointed in terms of the relevant procurement procedures on 22 August 2018.
It was formally given its mandate as well. He is part of the Search Committee because he is leaving, if he had expressed willingness to stay on, we would not have allowed him to form part of the committee,” said the chairperson.
She said Tjivikua’s departure is certain, adding that “we have it in writing”.
“The position of Vice Chancellor will be advertised either at the end of this month or at the beginning of next month.
It will be advertised in local media and also in one or two international tertiary based media,” she said. There are claims that Schimming-Chase has during the past months lobbied extensively for Tjivikua to stay on.
She refuted those claims this week saying: “His time is up and I can confirm that he is leaving. It is time for new blood and it is up to us to get someone who can continue growing the education and to ensure that NUST provides quality tertiary education.”
She said, ideally, the recruitment should take three months.
“It is my ideal wish that the process takes not more than three months. It will be good if we can start the 2019 academic year with a new vice-chancellor.
But we have to be mindful that should there be international applications there could be some delays, but ideally I want us to start the next academic year with a new vice-chancellor,” she said.
She also stated that the Council has no preferred candidate in mind.
“After the closing period, the selection for a new VC will commence, so no, Council does not have a candidate lined up to succeed Professor Tjivikua,” she said. This isn’t the only time Tjivikua’s exit has been mooted.
NUST insiders who spoke to this newspaper are fearful that since there is no obvious successor, Tjivikua could act as vice-chancellor indefinitely.
“Why should he act in that capacity if he is leaving…is Council saying there is no one currently at the institution who can fill that space in a temporary capacity?” questioned that source.
The source further said: “Strong correlations exist between NUST’s entrenched leadership and developmental trajectory of the institution because of his single-dimensional way of thinking whereby he shoots down suggestions from subordinates.”
During the last five years, Tjivikua has clashed multiple time senior staffers at the institution.
Tjivikua has been under immense pressure since his fallout with the vice-rector for Academic Affairs Dr Andrew Niikondo.
The national student body, Nanso, at the time wrote a letter to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila calling for intervention.
“We would like to brutally condemn corruption and maladministration and no-functional council of our institution. Corruption and maladministration plunged our campuses into one crisis after the other.
The inability for the institution to hold meetings and discuss issues affecting the institution in the best interest of the institution is a symbol of a non-functional council,” said Nanso at the time.
Another senior NUST official who constantly felt the wrath of Tjivikua is the university spokesperson Kaitira Kandjii who was on several occasions issued with disciplinary letters.
Kandjii and Tjivikua have not been seeing eye to eye, the situation was so bad that Tjivikua once suspended Kandjii for alleged incompetence, a frequent characterisation used by Tjivikua as soon as he clashes with an individual. Kandjii clung onto his job after seeking political intervention.