New Twist to Unam Lecturers’ Saga

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By Staff Reporter

WINDHOEK

Three members of the initial disciplinary committee in the matter between the University of Namibia and two of its lecturers, Usutuaije Maamberua and Dr Tangeni Iijambo, are not going to be part of the hearing scheduled for Monday.

New Era has reliably learned that the three, Dr Louisa Mostert, Professor Ray Auala and Mr Fritz Nghiishililwa will not be available when the hearing starts on Monday.

Unam spokesperson Utaara Hoveka has confirmed the unavailability of the three, denying that they have withdrawn because of not wanting to be associated with the hearing for its possible constitutional implications.

He said Professor Auala and Nghiishililwa are outside the country on business, while Dr Mostert has withdrawn for personal reasons. The three have been replaced by Professor Manfred Hinz, Professor Marriane Zappen-Thomson and Mr Jimmy Kwenani.

Meanwhile, New Era has learnt that one of the leading members in the hearing has been connected to one of the opposition political parties initially as coordinator for the Khomas Region while in the public service and lately as a legal advisor to the president of this political party.

This raises the moral question of how he can be indicting others while he finds himself in the very same position as the two Unam lecturers just to be arraigned in the hearing due on Monday.

In his capacity as legal advisor to the opposition political party president, he must have compiled or delivered public addresses for this political party, commented a source that chose to be anonymous.

According to Unam’s Terms and Conditions of Service, Article C.3.1.13 on participation in politics, subsection (e) prohibits staff members “not to compile or deliver public addresses to further or prejudice the interest of a political party”. Thus, the said hearing committee member and currently a Unam staff member, according to our source, was equally in contravention of Unam staff rules and regulations and thus not morally fit to sit in a court to hear others accused of similar contraventions.

The leader of the said political party is even reported to have expressed his/her disappointment in his advisor’s involvement in arraigning his/her fellow Unam staff members given his own involvement with this party.

The grapevine has it that objections may be raised with regard to the involvement of this Unam staff member in the hearing in view of his own connections to the said opposition political party.

Maamberua and Iijambo are accused of contravening Unam rules and regulations which bar staff members from active participation in politics.

They both face four charges, two of breach of Unam policy and the other two of insubordination.

Both breaches of policy charges relate to Article C.3.1.13 for delivering public addresses on or about the 6th of April 2008 at Ongwediva, to further the interests of the political party Swanu and for having accepted the position of President and Secretary General of Swanu respectively for Maamberua and Iijambo in October/November.

In the third charge, they are both accused of insubordination for failing since November 14, 2007 to comply with the instructions of the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, Professor Osmund Mwandemele, directing that they comply with the Unam policy on participation in politics.

Similarly, they are accused of insubordination for failing since January 16, to comply with the instructions of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lazarus Hangula, directing that they comply with the same policy.

Meantime, Swanu in vowing to fight the case by all means and to stand behind its leaders, has established a special bank account with the main branch of Bank Windhoek. It has also established a committee known as the Maamberua-Iijambo Justice Committee under the chairpersonship of former President, Kuzeeko Kangueehi.

Announcing the committee at a media conference at the Swanu headquarters in Katutura yesterday, Kuzeeko also urged the Founding President Sam Nujoma, as Chancellor of Unam, and Nangolo Mbumba as Education Minister, to “proactively intervene” in the matter and to advise the Unam leadership to call off the case against the two.

“Namibia has a colonial history during which the oppressive colonial regime applied certain suppressive laws in order to protect and defend its illegal abominable occupation of Namibia against the liberation movement.

“One of these suppressive measures was the prohibition of employees in all government institutions from active participation in politics. Unam as a successor to the Academy for Tertiary Education (a creation of the colonial regime), inherited some of these outdated measures,” Kangueehi pointed out, decrying the Government’s position of “sit and watch” while Unam is fighting tooth and nail the application of the rule.

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