Windhoek-Former president Hifikepunye Pohamba has officially announced that he will be stepping down as the chancellor of the University of Namibia (Unam) in November this year.
Pohamba, who was accompanied by members of Unam’s management team, informed President Hage Geingob of his intentions at State House yesterday.
“As you know, I have been the chancellor of Unam for the last six years. I have come to brief the president that my term is going expire in November. We need to have a new chancellor for the university. We are searching for a person who is going to come in as the chancellor,” he told the media.
Pohamba and the Unam management held a closed-door meeting with Geingob, which he said was to brief Geingob on the university’s day-to-day operations, as well as financial constraints, which have affected some programmes at the institution.
Pohamba was named the second chancellor of Unam in 2011, following the tenure of former President Sam Nujoma as the first chancellor of the university. Unam has previously stated that its appointment of chancellors was in line with other universities in Commonwealth countries, who have all elected to reserve the chancellorship for political leaders, prominent religious leaders and monarchs.
Pohamba said they briefed Geingob on the financial situation of the university, noting they need an additional cash injection for Unam to meet its obligations. He, however, did not mention the exact figure needed.
He noted that President Geingob had said he would consult with his Cabinet on Unam’s financial quandary to determine the way forward.
Vice Chancellor Lazarus Hangula yesterday said Chancellor Pohamba played a very important role in the growth of Unam, a relatively young university compared to others in the region.
“We have become a university of choice where students from countries like South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe that have long established universities are coming from to ask for our programmes,” Hangula stated.
He said he is confident that the candidate that Unam council will appoint as the next chancellor will be up for the challenge. Hangula said Unam was also not spared the economic hardships being experienced in many sectors.
Therefore, he said they did not only come brief Geingob on the negative factors weighing on the work of Unam, but also on the positive developments, such as how the school of medicine and engineering are progressing.
Hangula said Unam has lately introduced new courses, such as pharmacy and dentistry studies and added that Unam would also train students in anesthesia. However, he said some programmes have been affected as financial constraints are delaying the implementation of certain courses.
Regarding to Unam staff, who demonstrated over their delayed 7 percent salary increment recently, Hangula said they would continue to engage staff on the matter. He said the problem was to do cash flow shortages and was hopeful once the situation improves the staff would get what was agreed to.
Last week, disgruntled Unam employees, represented by the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) and the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), held a peaceful protest and petitioned Hangula to demand the university pay them the 7 percent salary increase agreed to last year.