Unam Mum on Academics’ Fate

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By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

WINDHOEK

The University of Namibia (Unam) has as yet to take any disciplinary measures against two of its staff members who are refusing to budge regarding university rules that forbid staff from active political activism or holding political party positions.

Head of the Department of Accounting, Auditing and Income Tax and Swanu President, Usutuaije Maamberua confirmed to New Era that they have not heard from the university’s authorities since their last letter dated 26 February.

Maamberua and lecturer in the Education Faculty and Swanu Secretary General Dr Tangeni Iijambo, were given until February 29 to respond to the university’s notice via a circular that in terms of personnel regulations, staff are not allowed to hold positions in political parties or they would face action.

However, the two in the letter of 26 February, two days before the deadline, told the university that their positions in Swanu were not full time and non-remunerative.

Thus, there was no need for them to go on unpaid leave.

They also seriously doubted the constitutionality of the Unam decision and said they had studied and consulted widely on it in view of Unam’s academic freedom, freedom of speech, human rights and freedom of association, the labour law as well as its Namibian context.

They advised Unam to seek an independent and neutral body like the Ombudsman’s office for its opinion on the matter.

The two were scheduled to meet the university management last Tuesday afternoon, but the meeting was postponed indefinitely at the eleventh hour. Neither Maamberua nor Iijambo was aware of the agenda of the would-be meeting.

University spokesperson Utaara Hoveka, having been in and out of office lately as he has been travelling, could only attest to the back-and-forth communication between the university and the lawyers of Maamberua and Iijambo.

However Iijambo was not aware of any back-and-forth correspondence between their lawyers from the law firm Metcalfe Legal Practitioners and the university, besides the initial request for the statutes of the university.
Iijambo could also not understand the sudden backtracking by the university despite its initial eagerness to act.

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