UN dismisses non-graduate Namibians

Conflict is brewing at the United Nations offices in Namibia, as employees without tertiary degrees, who are currently employed in certain job categories, are being shown the door, after failing to upgrade their qualifications.
The Windhoek Observer has it on good authority that scores of staff members, who failed to meet the December 2016 deadline to obtain their qualifications, have been given the boot.
The United Nations workforce globally is made up of different categories of staff, with different levels of responsibilities and requirements.
It is normally required that applicants have an advanced university degree for the UN’s professional and director level positions. It is, however, frequently accepted that if you have a first-level university degree, combined with qualifying work experience, you meet the educational requirements.
The qualifications for National Professional Officers are the same as for the Professional category and require as a minimum a first-level university degree, while the Field Service and General Service categories do not require university qualifications.
According to a source, who is among those who failed to meet the deadline to upgrade their qualifications, long-serving employees, who were recruited during the time when the UN was still hiring people without tertiary qualifications, were given about six years to get their qualifications in order or face dismissal.
The job specifications for the UN worldwide are universal, but after Namibia gained its independence in 1990, the local UN office proceeded to hire those without tertiary qualifications, because of shortage a of skills in the country.
Those affected by the December 2016 deadline have now threatened to take action, as some of them have been working for the UN for over 20 years.
United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representative for Namibia, Anita Kiki Gbeho admitted that the UN office in Namibia is currently undergoing a restructuring exercise.
She, however, said that only one of the four UN agencies that were undergoing the restructuring exercise, had completed the process, with eight people out of 22 having already been affected.
She did not say which four UN agencies were restructuring their operations.
Gbeho added that the changes are integral to the organisation’s continued pursuit of greater effectiveness, transparency and accountability to its partners and the people it serves.
It was not clear how many people will be affected.
“Allow us to start by clarifying that it is not the entire UN system in Namibia that is undergoing the restructuring process. To date, only four UN agencies have either undergone or are in the process of planning a restructuring process.
“As the Government of Namibia has clear priorities in terms of national development, the UN in Namibia is constantly taking measures to ensure we are aligned to the Government’s needs and that our programmes are streamlined in support of Namibia’s development objectives,” Gbeho said.
She further said that because the United Nations is a results-based organisation, there is need to constantly assess what the organisation is doing, which at times calls for them to adjust their capacity, in order to ensure that they are “fit for the purpose”, to meet the commitments they have made to the Government of Namibia.
“It is also important to note that the UN in Namibia has shifted since independence, from being a development organisation, to becoming a partner organisation.
“As Namibia has evolved into an upper-middle-income country, the role of UN in Namibia has also changed, in response to requests from Government. As Government now requires more high-level technical assistance and capacity than it did at independence, the UN skills mix also has to change,” she said.