By Staff Reporter
Seven senior staff at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) have cautioned that the prioritisation of foreign nationals in the executive management positions suggests a lack of confidence in the Namibian skills pool.
In their three-page letter to higher education Minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi the staff also said the conduct of executive management leads to a deterioration in staff morale, the brand and reputational damage to NUST.
They added that the appointment of three foreign national registrar, vice chancellor at highest echelons of leadership at NUST run a risk of undermining ongoing efforts to develop Namibian capacity.
“We find it disappointing and troubling that the NUST council, which has been tasked with ensuring leadership continuity and succession planning, was and is ostensibly unable to identity qualified Namibians to steer the university’s vision at all levels of executive management.
With the exception of the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic, three of the four executive management positions, namely the positions of Deputy vice chancellor of Administration and Finance, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation and Registrar are occupied by non-Namibians.
Two of the executive positions require a minimum of a master’s degree. Furthermore, the appointment of non-Namibians in an acting capacity as vice chancellor is rather unfortunate as it implies a vote of no confidence to internal and external local capacity, local potential, at the very least,” they wrote. The employees further added that it would be deeply regrettable if NUST is placed at the complete helm of foreign nationals, with the appointment of a substantive vice-chancellor.
“Regrettably, we have developed a lack of confidence in some of the NUST council members to act in the national interest with respect to executive institutional appointments.”
According to them, the general atmosphere amongst staff at NUST has now been characterised by “victimisation” and workplace bullying by some members of the executive.
Without mentioning names of the members of the executive, the staff stated in their letter that over the months, the conduct of some members of the executive management who behave in an unbecoming authoritarian manner, as evidenced in their tonality, both written, consequently continues to erode the spirit of collegiality and trust at the university.
“A rising practice is that the professional input of the (Namibian) senior and extended management is often received with disdain, infantilisation and deemed as offering limited value in the operations, management and strategic direction of NUST.
In light of these developments, the hostile culture and separation that has been created by some members of the executive management is causing a reputational damage upon the NUST brand.
This has seen certain functions taken away from staff, without elaborate explanation for doing so.
This self-imposed alienation of executive management from senior and extended management naturally leads to a disconnect with the rest of the staff compliment,” they said in their letter.
During this leadership trajectory, the said, it is paramount that all management and staff align themselves to the strategic objectives of NUST and resist the temptation to be side-tracked by politics of power and avoid further adversely impacting upon academic and administrative staff and student populace.
Queried about the matter, NUST spokesperson Kaitira Kandjii said “I know what you are talking about but we can’t respond to your question now as tomorrow we are out of office,” he said.