…As Tjivikua splits Council
A leadership tussle over whether outgoing Vice Chancellor Professor Tjama Tjivikua should stay on in an acting capacity reached fever point last week, a situation which has resulted in the minister responsible for tertiary institutions stepping in to cool the situation and subsequently issue a deadline by when Tjivikua must be gone.
The Patriot has it on good grounds that the NUST Council met last week and the Tjivikua faction narrowly managed to keep him on board. Highly placed sources who were part of the proceedings said most of the external Council members voted against a six-month contract extension for Tjivikua, while the internal ones stood firmly behind their honcho.
Board chairperson Esi Schimming-Chase, who this week bluntly refused to answer questions from this newspaper on the developments, is said to have supported the extension while her deputy Goms Menette was against it.
On Wednesday, Council members met with Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi and her team to discuss the way forward.
Ministerial sources indicated that the minister wants Tjivikua gone by March 2019.
The minister’s initial directive was for Tjivikua only to stay only until December 2018. Schimming-Chase in September this year also indicated that Council wants a new VC to be recruited by the time the 2019 academic year kicks off.
In an unprecedented move, she successfully spearheaded a campaign that secured a further six month term for Tjivikua.
Some Council members wanted the minister to be consulted about the six-month extension while others argued otherwise.
According to sources, those who pushed for the extension were of the opinion that the extension is not a renewal and thus should not be taken to Minister.
The other group feels Tjivikua had a five year contract and going beyond that is subject to the Minister being informed.
The new Council resolution states that the contract is extended for six more months, with an option to be renewed.
Council Chair silent
Schimming-Chase this week chose to ignore written questions sent to her via Whatsapp regarding the controversial recruitment process.
Since there was no clear-cut majority between Council members on the contract extension of Professor Tjivikua which was eventually extended, The Patriot wanted to know from her how such a development impacts the relations within the board and whether it is a concern for her as chairperson.
With Professor Tjivikua on his way out, there has been concerns as to whether he should be allowed to take major decisions such as the disciplining of senior officials and other operational matters, this question she also did not attend to.
The Patriot also asked if Council in any way communicated with Dr.Itah Kandjii-Murangi regarding the current status of the recruitment process and whether she as chairperson is satisfied with the manner in which the recruitment process is progressing. These questions also yielded no response.
The latest Council split comes a few years after a highly embarrassing spectacle when the previous Council members lashed out at each other, airing dirty laundry in a letter to the prime minister as both pro and anti Tjivikua factions within the Council went for the jugular.
The Patriot understands that this time around the acrimonious display was fully laid bare during last week’s Council meeting when the true extent of the shockingly bitter atmosphere swirled at NUST’s highest decision making body.
Council splits as a result of Tjivikua is nothing new. The previous board walked a similar path years back over the manner in which he runs the university’s affairs.
In November 2015, the former Council wrote to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila because some Council members felt they were sidelined and deliberately blocked by the then chairperson Evelyn Breuer and Tjivikua.
The concerned Council members at the time questioned the alleged exorbitant salary of Tjivikua which was said to have been over N$2 million at the time, while they were still being lobbied to increase it.
There were also claims of tender irregularities, student dissatisfaction, Tjivikua’s alleged overspending and conduct towards his colleagues.
Tjivikua has always played smart by ensuring that he has the Council Chairperson in his corner.
The Council also took issue because the chairperson at the time ignored a request by the Anti- Corruption Commission to probe the issue of favouratism and a payment of over N$400 000 for Tjivikua’s then partner (now wife) Neveara Olivier’s studies. This benefit does not apply to other staffers.