19 June 2019

Namibia: Schimming-Chase Quits Nust

LAWYER Esi Schimming-Chase has resigned as the chairperson of the Namibia University of Science and Technology Council, a few weeks after complaining about political interference by higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi.

The council is Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust)'s highest decision-making body, and is currently involved in the search for the next leader of the institution.

Council secretary Maurice Garde yesterday confirmed to The Namibian the resignation of Schimming-Chase and another council member, Markus von Jeney, on Friday, 14 June.

A source told The Namibian over the weekend that Kandjii-Murangi allegedly stormed into a Nust council meeting last Friday.

According to sources, her presence and insistence on certain Nust issues forced Schimming-Chase to quit.

Schimming-Chase's resignation comes after she wrote to Kandjii-Murangi last Monday, stating her frustrations over the minister's constant interference in Nust affairs, and how the council should deal with the appointment of a new vice chancellor to replace Tjama Tjivikua.

"I am constrained to point out that the purported attempt to direct council to cancel the re-advertisement process, which was resolved by council some time ago with the honourable minister's knowledge and some three days before the closing date of the re-advertisement, is legally invalid and a breach of every notion of good governance," Schimming-Chase said in the letter to the minister a week ago.

Kandjii-Murangi declined to comment, but indications so far show that she has won the battle on how Nust will employ its next vice chancellor.

A press statement issued by new acting council chairperson Goms Menette on Monday confirmed that the recruitment of the vice chancellor and the process will be finalised by the incoming council in September 2019. This effectively removed the obligation from the current council.

"The council's term comes to an end in August 2019, and this meeting therefore served as the final formal engagement before the lapsing of this term," the statement said.

The Namibian reported in April this year that the university had appointed Morné du Toit as acting vice chancellor.

Schimming-Chase was unreachable for comment yesterday.

When The Namibian asked whether Schimming-Chase and Kandjii-Murangi are on good terms earlier this week, Garde said both the minister and chairperson have the success of the institution as their primary goal.

"In all businesses, people have differences. But the underlying success of Nust as a premier institution is what both of them are together on unconditionally," he said.

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