Clifton Movirongo

A new scandal has rocked the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) after the institutions council is accused of overlooking Professor Frednard Gideon for the post of Vice-Chancellor (VC) opting for Dr Erold Naomab, despite him having scored higher during the interview process.

This comes as the Nust Council Chairperson, Florette Nakusera on Friday afternoon announced Naomab as the new Nust VC for the next five years, effective January 2021, replacing Dr Tjama Tjivikua.

According to information made available to the Windhoek Observer, the Nust Council appointed Naomab for the top post despite him scoring 64.5 percent during the interview, compared to Gideon’s score of 68.8 percent.

The move by the university’s highest decision making body has attracted condemnation, with the SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) warning it against the decision.

“This is hypocrisy of its highest level to create tension between people, destroy the education sector and tarnish the ministry’s name. As the SPYL we are strongly condemn the nonsensical agenda played by individual Nust council members as it is against the law and the Nust Act,” said the SPYL Secretary for Education, Hofni Iipinge said.

He said the organisation will be appealing the appointment through Higher Education, Technology and Innovation minister, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi and the Nust Chancellor Professor Peter Katjavivi.

“They need to give a directive for council to follow the correct procedure of appointing the Nust VC as per the candidate’s performance and not based on references, because this was not part of the original requirements,” Iipinge said.

Kandjii-Murangi when contacted over the council decision and concerns around the appointment, professed ignorance over the appointment, despite the university falling under her ministry.

“I am not aware of the appointment and will need to hear from council first and then I can comment,” she said.

However, Nakusera defended council decision at a press conference on Friday, saying the appointment decision was not only based on the interviews and presentations but on four criteria.

“Two of those criteria were quantitatively scored and the others were qualitatively scored from the discussion that emanated from the joint search committee that also served as council members,” she said.

She added that apart from the public presentations the council conducted closed door interviews that consisted of only the panel. “The third criteria were psychometric tests and the fourth one was the background checks and the reference checks with those that they are working under.”

Nakusera indicated that there was no favouritism in the decision-making as the majority of the people in council, 9 out of 14 had voted Naomab to be appointed to the VC post.

“None of us has any sinister ideas about who we want. We looked for the best candidate in accordance with our views as a council who has been entrusted by the NUST Act 7 of 2015, to appoint the VC.”

Dr Andrew Niikondo is currently the university’s Acting Vice-Chancellor since May 2020.

Niikondo was appointed following the expiry of the acting term of Morné Du Toit, who reverted to his substantive position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Finance and Administration.