Monday 12 April 2021
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Tjivikua, protect your legacy!

Professor Tjama Tjivikua’s impeccable contribution to the growth of the country’s second biggest public tertiary institution is undisputable from whichever way you look at it.
In fact, over the years it never seemed like he can set a foot wrong when it comes to running the affairs of the institution he has led since 1995. Sadly on the people relations side, he was sorely lacking. The quality of higher education at the institution and linkages across the world is worth taking your hat off for.
However, several unwarranted moves over the last decade have threatened to destroy his legacy. The current fight to stay on as NUST boss makes it even worse, especially when he made the decision to resign.
Just when the higher education fraternity thought Tjivikua was on his way out last month, strings were pulled by all means to make provision for him to stay on while the university looks for someone to replace him.
Is the NUST Council telling us that there is no internal candidate to act while Tjivikua’s successor is being sought?
If so, then Tjivikua has surely failed when it comes to succession planning. And isn’t that the ultimate test of leadership ? There are claims that the decision for Tjivikua to stay on is the brainchild of the Council and not Tjivikua’s idea. Fair enough, but true leaders must know when to bow out. What did he not do in the 23 years he served as the head that he wants to do in another six months? And why did Council not foresee this eventuality and planned for it ?
Africa in general has a bug when it comes to leaders clinging on to power until their day of choice. Some of course do a great job in those positions but still jeopardize the opportunity to harvest more from people who have been in the pipeline and are equally, if not more competent to lead.
Although Tjivikua has been criticized for overstaying and his alleged authoritarian management style, he will forever be known for his triumph of transforming the institution’s status from a Technicon into a university.
There has been unrest at the university which has seen top executive management criticizing him. Also, there has been well-crafted conspiracies to cause unease at the institution which he seems to have handled well, at least until recently. Not even a union could garner enough votes to petition for the employees at NUST thanks to his preference for foreigners.
One wonders, when you have done all you could have, the good for that matter, why choose to stay on as if there is no one within the executive that you have led to take over. What happened to transformative leadership?
Could it then mean that most leaders are not confident to step down because they do not see anyone from within capable of steering the ship, or is it pure greed coupled with the sickness of some African leaders? It is time for leaders who have stayed long in positions to provide the opportunity for new blood. As for NUST, the executive must stand together and get someone who can continue growing the institution and ensure that the university provides quality tertiary education. UNAM recently demonstrated what NUST was unable to do for 23 years.
Professor Lazarus Hangula walked away and young blood Professor Kenneth Matengu stepped in. Public interviews were done and the recruitment process was done in a transparent manner. The NUST Council can learn a lot from that.
The call goes beyond NUST to parliamentarians who ought to lead the way. A handful of politicians who formed part of the country’s founding Cabinet continue to serve 28 years later. Whether they are producing the results or not, a longer stay in these positions jeopardizes the hopes of younger capable leaders or those with a different way of doing things ever getting an opportunity.
Also, if you have a system whereby you are given a responsibility and for whatever reason you are unable to perform that responsibility, then obviously it doesn’t help being in that position. It is time government introduces mechanisms in place to both track down performance and to make sure leaders do not overstay.

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