… Katjavivi expresses disappointment
By Kelvin Chiringa
Cracks within the Namibia University of Science and Technology’s (NUST) Council became uglier after a member tendered his resignation letter following the resignation of chairperson Advocate Esi Schimming-Chase.
The Patriot is reliably informed that council member Marcus Von Jeney hung his boots.
Von Jeney pointed to his resignation as due to “circumstances out of my control” and that it was his “humble wish that NUST will continue to grow from strength to strength and become the world-class university we all have been striving for”.
The resignations come right in the wake of The Patriot having recently reported that the council is at loggerheads with higher education minister, Itah Kandjii-Murangi who wanted to stop the readvertising of the vacancy of vice-chancellor.
Schimming-Chase has also reached out to university chancellor and speaker of parliament Professor Peter Katjavivi in connection with the interference.
This week Katjavivi came out of his shell to express his disappointment with how things are panning out at the country’s second largest university.
“It is our hope that the institution will rise and shine above all the current challenges,” he said in a statement.
The Patriot has also gleaned into a series of scathing emails between Schimming-Chase and Joint Search Committee of Council and Senate (JSCCS) member Dr. Michael Humavindu as well as a junior lecturer.
Humavindu and the chairperson seemed to be having friction with regards to whether acting vice-chancellor Morné Du Toit, and the registrar should be allowed to attend Council proceedings.
“Whether a Council meeting or JSCCS meeting takes place they must be there if it is to be a duly constituted meeting of the Council or JSCCS.
Otherwise the meetings you suggest are informal meetings, and in that case it would be sufficient if a meeting is arranged between the chancellor who is the legal titular head of Nust, the minister, myself and the Vice Chair only,” Schimming-Chase wrote to Humavindu. As the fight between Kandjii-Murangi and Schimming-Chase played out, Humavindu got accused of siding with the minister.
Above these cracks in the NUST house, official communication at the university has so far given the impression that all is well, a different picture given the leaked ugly emails seen by this publication and Katjavivi’s confession. The university’s vice-chairperson, Goms Menette so far said the council met on the 14th of this month with higher education minister Kandjii-Murangi to deliberate on various issues, inter alia the state of affairs at the institution. Among issues discussed was the hotly debated topic of the recruitment of a substantive vice-chancellor. Menette has so far said this process will be finalized by the incoming council in September this year.
“The NUST council would like to reassure all staff and students and the public at large that the governance of the institution remains stable and effective. The Council will continue to give full support to the executive management and further reassures staff and students of active engagement and cooperation in the affairs of the university,” said Menette.
Despite the noted friction, it also gave assurance that the relationship between the line-minister was of “paramount importance and remains sound premised on mutual respect
What has happened so far at NUST
Meanwhile extracts of minutes gleaned by The Patriot reveal that the university’s council at a special meeting held on January the 29th this year resolved to have five candidates shortlisted for interviews for the position of vice chancellor. Further, Nust’s Joint Search Committee of Council and Senate (JSCCS) reviewed interview results of five candidates who had been shortlisted at February.
The candidates were interviewed by the JSCCS and invited panelists. They subsequently made presentations to Nust stakeholders between the 7th and 9th of February 2019. Council then discussed a report of the JSCCS that headhunting be considered as a viable alternative since the JCSSC was not in a position to recommend a certain candidate given concerns raised.
It was also noted that none of the candidates was able to present a clear vision for Nust and none stood out.
As such, council resolved to readvertise the position while the management committee of the Nust council recommended the appointment of Morne du Toit as acting chancellor with effect from April the 1st 2019 for a period of one year or until the position is substantially filled. The appointment of Du Toit was received by protest from Nust lecturers who considered him a junior member of staff. “His appointment comes as a surprise because he has no PhD. Du Toit is an accountant and the Deputy VC for Finance,” one lecturer is quoted by a weekly as saying. However, the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) threw its weight behind him.
“Under the threat of capture of NUST by those with ties to the enemies of our progress, we were compelled to look into Mr Morné Du Toit who has been appointed as VC at the institution.
We found that he is a Chartered Accountant, holds a Master of Commerce. He has lectured before at UJ, has run a private education institution before as well.
Also, he has worked internationally in Saudi Arabia.
We would therefore like to thank the board for not giving in to undue pressure to appoint someone with not only a confirmed sordid agenda, but known ties to those hell-bent to undermine our progress and for completely doing away with the initial idea of rotation of acting VC’s,” said SPYL in a statement.