Unhappy Artists Blame Minister

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Dissatisfaction is daily mounting among the seventy part-time tutors in the National Extension Program of the College of the Arts in Katutura due to the continuing alleged inability of the authorities to resolve work related issues. The NAEP has been plagued by many problems, ranging from alleged unilateral sackings of personnel by the College of the Arts to mismanagement by the former head of the entity. “The National Extension Program is our livelihood, some of us working in it for more than eight ears, but still the problems persist. We are rightfully perturbed by the whole situation, which cannot be amicably resolved by our employers,” said disgruntled and unhappy drama tutor and artist, Serverius Majiedt, during a special meeting of representatives of the staff at the Katutura Community Arts Center. Tutor Dennis Eiseb, studying part-time at Unam to improve his qualifications, said the tutors hold the minister in charge responsible for the deteriorating situation. “Seemingly the Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture is apparently deliberately not well informed and conversed with regard to the real concerns and problems of the tutors that have made many sacrifices and contributions towards the artistic and cultural upliftment of our people. I get the impression that the NAEP is being run without a vision,” Eiseb claimed during the meeting, among the media exclusively attended by Art/Life. According to Evram Nyambali, who chaired the meeting, tutors remain uncertain about their working conditions and appointments. “To my knowledge, a number of experienced tutors have been fired left, right and center. These people had over the years been considered suitable and able to lead the charge on the cultural emancipation and encouragement of creative people in this country. Yet, they are being treated like outcasts, something cannot and should not be tolerated. Enough is enough,” said Nyambali. He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the haphazard way in which the workers have been and are still being appointed. “A letter of appointment, no formal contract, is extended to all of us on a take-it or leave-it basis year after year, causing a lot of anxiety and discomfort among the workers. Why should we be treated like this? We are not doing others favours, we work hard to fulfill the artistic and creative hopes, dreams and aspirations of our people. We deserve to be treated fairly and be appointed on a full-time basis,” Nyambali urged. He also indicated that the present vacant post of Head of the National Extension Program should be filled with someone with knowledge and experience in the Namibian arts and culture sector. The former Head of the NAEP, Sharon Cagnetta, resigned from the post after she was suspended on suspicion of fraud and theft. She is soon to appear in court on multiple criminal charges. “The future of this program is at stake as well as the cultural wellbeing of the Namibian people,” said tutor Sylvester Biwa, who completed a three-year music diploma at a Zimbabwean college with a government bursary.. “We are unsure and remain unsure about our positions as tutors,” said a rather perturbed drama tutor, Lydia Gariseb. The meeting decided to request an urgent audience with either the minister or his ministry’s permanent secretary for in-depth discussions to try and allay the fears of the staff. The representatives also vehemently complained about the way the program is run and administered, how their monthly working hours have been unfairly reduced and leave for the staff. It is expected that a new Head of the Extension Program will be appointed within the next two months. It is also a generally known fact that a tendency previously existed in the program to appoint people without proven creative inclinations or understanding for Namibian arts and culture in the post on an unfair basis, conforming to the slogan of ‘appointing the wrong people in the right positions’.