By Staff Reporter
From a series of memoranda authored by Institutional Planner of the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Neavera Tjivikua, it can be said she is on a mission to maintain a sense of continuity at the university.
In two separate pieces of communications in a matter of two days, which Tjivikua addressed to her supervisor Professor Prem Govender, Deputy Vice Chancellor, she outlines several concerns she has about recent amendments to the status of the Executive Committee and their responsibilities.
“I am writing to express my concerns regarding the changes to the status and responsibilities of EXCO, as reflected in the NUST Statutes (online/intranet). These changes seem contrary to Section 13 of the NUST Act No 7 of 2015. This may not have been intentional, but it raises valid concerns. In the new amendment (online) it appears as if EXCO has improperly assumed the role of the Vice Chancellor,” Tjivikua begins.
Tjivikua reveals in her second letter that upon further perusal of the Statutes available online, she was able to ascertain that there were 459 replacements, 119 insertions and 202 deletions made to the document originally approved by Council in 2016.
“As you know, both the NUST Act No 7 of 2015 and the NUST Statutes (2016) outline the protocol to be followed to effect changes or amendments to the statutes. I am not aware of any consultations that have taken place since 2016 with respect to statutes at any meetings of Management, Boards of Study or Senate.
I am also not aware of any recommendations made by Senate to Council in this regard,” the letter of 19 July reads in part.
Listing various sections of the NUST Act and their stipulations, Tjivikua sets out to prove that Senate was not consulted on the amendments made, that no changes to the Statutes, Rules and Regulations were tabled or discussed at Senate and that the appropriate written notice was not served to members of the Council and all amendments may not have been discussed and elaborated at the meeting, thus deeming the amendments invalid.
Thanking the Deputy Vice Chancellor for his ‘indulgence’, Tjivikua concludes her memorandum by stating that “I believe that while the above amendments to the NUST Statutes posted on the intranet will significantly impact and change the operations of the University, they do violate the NUST Act.
I therefore believe that given the above circumstances, the document (online) should be retracted and due process will have to be followed in the future to review and approve documents such as the NUST Statutes, as well as policies, rules and regulations.”
Unsatisfied with the response she received from the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Tjivikua proceeded to write a further memorandum to the Acting Chairperson of Council, Goms Menette on 29 July this year.
“I informed my supervisor about the consequences (of making amendments without following due process) through two memoranda, but he only wrote back an email saying that he ‘duly noted’ my submissions.
Due to the gravity of the actions and amendments, I have decided to inform you directly about the current state of affairs. I feel obliged to inform you at once and to request rectification of the NUST Statutes in order to avoid potential malpractices and lawsuits against the University.
NUST is a public university governed by law and it can be sued by employees or anyone else for breach of law and codes of conduct, or for wrongdoing,” she laments.
It appears that on the same day as the initial memorandum, the Office of the Registrar retracted the altered document from the staff intranet, reversing most of the amendments made, publishing an updated version.
Tjivikua then wrote a memorandum the Registrar and Secretary to Council, Maurice Garde, lambasting the events that followed her initial memoranda.
“I would like to know why the stakeholders were not consulted and which procedures were followed to advise Council to affect changes as recorded by yourself.
I contend that the above stated actions and variations to the Statutes have caused distress and must be investigated and addressed as a matter of urgency.
Therefore, I am obliged to bring this under the attention of some key stakeholders,” Tjivikua concluded.
One of the key statutes cited by Tjivikua were (COUN-NUST/2016/210/172) ‘Status and responsibility of CEO’ which states that EXCO represents the highest level of collective management in the University.
Its primary role is to advise the vice Chancellor on the strategic management of the University and not its operational management which is normally conducted within line function structures.
As part of this strategic management, Exco is responsible for regularly assessing the university’s overall performance, its financial standing, its risk mitigation strategies and progress with strategic and academic plans as well as operating plans. In addition, it would occupy itself with overseeing processes aimed at institutional change and renewal.
It was amended as follows: EXCO represents the highest level of collective management in the University. Its primary role is to approve and guide strategic management of the University and not its operational management which is normally conducted within line function structures.
As part of this strategic management, Exco is responsible for regularly assessing the university’s overall performance, its financial standing, its risk mitigation strategies and progress with strategic and academic plans as well as operating plans.
In addition, it would occupy itself with overseeing processes aimed at institutional change and renewal.