Helena Johannes

The High Court is set to hear the case challenging the appointment of Dr Erold Naomab as the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor of Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) on the 4th of December, Lawyer Sisa Namandje has revealed.

This comes after the case was filed in the High Court on Friday, 20 November, 2020.

“Accordingly the matter has been set down at 09h00 on 4 December 2020, whether or not any of the respondents have filed a notice to oppose,” said a notice of motion filed by Namandje. The respondents are the Chairperson of the Council of NUST, Florette Nakusera, NUST, chairperson of joint committee of the Council and senate of NUST, Minister of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi, and the newly appointed NUST VC. Namandje and his client, Professor Frednard Gideon, are demanding a review, correcting, and setting aside of the decision by the NUST Council. The decision was made on the 12th of November, 2020, to select Naomab as the best candidate for appointment in the position of VC of NUST, instead of Gideon, and for the appointment process undertaken by the Council to be declared unfair and unlawful. He is also demanding that any employment agreement entered into between the University and Naomab, based on the purported decision of 12th of November,2020, be declared unlawful
and ‘ultra vires’ as per the provisions of section 18930 of the Public Enterprises Governance Act, No.1 of 2019.

“Ordering that the decisions taken and all other processes undertaken by the Council and senate of NUST in relation to the appointment of the VC not be to be implemented further, and the commencement of work in January 2021 to be interdicted and stopped forthwith pending finalisation of the applicant’s application.” Naomab was appointed as the best candidate for the position despite performing lower than Gideon, who was recommended by the committee that oversaw the interview processes. The appointment has since raised many eyebrows.

In an affidavit issued by Gideon, he said, “I also personally watched a video depicting the press conference by the NUST Council chairperson, Florette Nakusera, and her answering the questions by the media on the 13the of November, 2020. In particular, she did not deny the fact that I came out as the overall and combined best ranked candidate with the quantitative combined ranking of 68 percent, as opposed to Naomab with 64 percent and I further did well in respect of the psychometric test.”

He added that, “The background check, which formed part of the report while not that bad against me, were produced in an unfair, irrational and unlawful manner.”

Gideon claimed that the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor is an important matter in achieving and attaining objectives of NUST, and it is something the Council must ensure that it is carried out with a high degree of integrity, transparency, fairness, objectively and full accountability.

“I will make out a case that there was no serious, fair and proper consideration of the report by the joint search committee of the Council and Senate of NUST. Certain information was further kept away from the Council, such as my referee’s background reports or statements,” said Gideon in an Affidavit.

Efforts to contact Nakusera were fruitless as by the time of publishing her phone went unanswered.