Unam Lecturers’ Hearing ‘Has No Legal Standing’

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Former academician and former president of Swanu, Dr Rihupisa Kandando, says Monday’s disciplinary hearing involving the University of Namibia and two academics has no legal standing.

Kandando’s argument comes after the university confirmed that three members of the disciplinary committee have been replaced after indications that they would be absent.

Initially, Dr Louisa Mostert, Professor Ray Auala and Mr Fritz Nghiishililwa formed part of the six-member panel that was to sit in the disciplinary hearing scheduled for Monday.

The three have been replaced by Professor Manfred Hinz, Professor Marriane Zappen-Thomson and Mr Jimmy Kwenani.

Kandando says the presence of Reggie Izaacks who is also part of the panelists at the hearing creates conflict of interest because he was involved in the initial investigations or interrogating team.

Further, Professor Manfred Hinz is from the Law Faculty at the university, which already has pronounced itself on the matter.

Kandando feels the university would have followed the conventional grievance procedures as practiced at other universities. In such a case, the planned disciplinary hearing panel would be composed of a chairman, one council member who is not employed by the university, one member from the Senate and all these would have been appointed by the council, he added.

Kandando also rapped the university’s disciplinary code as that which “reflects ambiguity and does not seem to follow the common universal trend as observed in other universities”.

With a few days to go before the hearing takes place, Kandando urged the university to submit all initial investigation documents pertaining to the case. Availing these documents to the other party will enable them to facilitate defence and presentation of both contesting parties, he said.

“Unam must submit all the documents to level the playing field of the disciplinary hearing and to conform to fair trial as provided under Article 12 of the Namibian Constitution,” he added.

Failure to accede to this request, Kandando said, will leave Swanu with no option but to institute a court interdict on the disciplinary hearing.

The university’s spokesperson, Utaara Hoveka, declined to comment on the matter.

Swanu president, Usutuaije Maamberua, and secretary general, Dr Tangeni Iijambo, face disciplinary charges after they refused to resign as heads of the political party.

Five days after their election as party office bearers, they received letters from the university informing them that they could not be involved in active politics while working for the institution.

The university’s human resources department informed the two they had transgressed their conditions of employment by addressing Swanu public rallies and accepting the positions. The academics also failed to resign after they were instructed to do so twice.

Maamberua is head of department for accounting, auditing and taxation at Unam, while Iijambo is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education.

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