NUST re-appoints Du Toit as acting VC

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

THE council of the Namibia University of Science and Technology has re-appointed Morne du Toit as acting vice chancellor until May next year. This comes after du Toit notified the outgoing university council last month of his intention to resign.

It is understood that he had opted to stand down and return to his former post in administration amidst tense ongoing power struggles for positions within the institution. His re-appointment, announced at an induction meeting on Monday night, has predictably been criticised by rival contenders for the post, who wanted to know why the council re-appointed someone that offered to resign.

“How can you appoint someone at an induction programme? There was division [after the decision was announced]. The internal council members did not agree with that,” one source said. “The chairperson [of the council] said the minister gave instructions that du Toit must be reappointed.

“Now, we are saying why should the minister throw us under the bus when she knows that we had issues with this man and he resigned? Why would you appoint someone who has resigned as your capable candidate? We want to find out whether it’s true or not,” the aggrieved source said.

In his notice of resignation, du Toit said it was up to the new council to determine their candidate for acting purposes while they restart the recruitment process for a substantive VC.

In his letter, dated 30 October, he said: “I am writing to inform you that on 29 October 2019, I notified the chairperson of the council Mr. Goms Menette and honorable Minister of Higher Education Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi of my intention to step down from my position as Acting Vice-Chancellor of the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) following the appointment of the new council.

“I shall remain in my position until such a time the new council appoints a new acting vice chancellor.”

Kandjii-Murangi is also accused by her critics of having bypassed the University Act when she appointed the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the university governing council, Florette Nakusera and Michael Humavindu, respectively.

It is understood that Kandjii-Murangi appointed them directly, despite Section 7 (1) (c) of the Act that states that council should elect the chairperson and vice chairperson from among themselves. A source with knowledge of the finer legal points told Confidente though that the minister appointed the chairperson and vice on the basis of powers vested in her by the Public Enterprises Governance Act.

“The Public Enterprises Act grants the minister the right to appoint the chairperson and vice-chairperson and then Section 41 of the Act says that the Public Enterprises Act prevails over any founding Act. Which means the state-owned enterprises Act becomes superior to the NUST Act,” they explained.

Kandjii-Murangi did not respond to calls and a text message sent to her mobile phone. Du Toit also did not answer his phone or questions sent via e-mail on Tuesday. Contacted for comment early on Wednesday, Humavindu declined to comment, saying all related questions would be answered at a press briefing at the university on Wednesday afternoon.

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