Three UNAM pro-vice chancellors, a deputy minister and three prominent academics are vying for the country’s leading national institution of higher learning’s vice chancellor position, the Windhoek Observer has established.
UNAM Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Development, Professor Kenneth Matengu; Pro-Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, Ellen Namhila and the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor Frednard Gideon, are said to have applied for the UNAM top job.
Others include Professor Joseph Diescho; Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo; NUST Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tjama Tjivikua and Ambassador to the Benelux countries and the European Union, Dr Kaire Mbuende.
The successful candidate will take over from Professor Lazarus Hangula, who is retiring in August after spending 14 years at the helm of the higher education institute.
Hangula’s term was supposed to end in June 2016, but was extended for a further two years until August 2018, “to avoid a leadership vacuum”.
A UNAM source claimed this week that Gideon, who has been acting as vice chancellor in Hangula’s absence, was being groomed for the prestigious position.
“Lately, Frednard has been the one acting every time Professor Hangula is not around. Talks are that he is being groomed for Hangula’s position,” the source said.
Others said that Namhila has been leaning on former President, Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Namhila invited Pohamba at the launch of her latest book, Little Research Value: African Estate Records and Colonial Gaps in a Post-Colonial National Archive.
At the launch was also Vice President, Nangolo Mbumba, whom Namhila fondly praised as “My father”.
Mbumba became UNAM Chancellor a week after Namhila’s book launch.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer on Thursday, the Cassinga Survivor said she has what it takes to lead UNAM.
“Yes I applied to get the position and that is the aim of everyone else that applied. I want to serve my people, my country and my university and I believe I have what it takes through my record to be one.
“It was not an easy decision to apply for the position, but I have made myself available,”Namhila said.
Government sources also claimed that President Hage Geingob is considering Dr Mbuende for the UNAM top job.
Geingob appointed Mbuende, a career diplomat, in December 2015 as his representative to the European Union and Belgium.
The president appoints the vice chancellor, but on recommendation and advice from the UNAM Council.
Commenting on the recruitment process which the UNAM Council is undertaking, Chairperson Sam Shivute said the candidates are expected to make presentations at a public event to ensure transparency.
“The recruitment process has not started yet, perhaps in the next two to three weeks,” Shivute told the Windhoek Observer.
“The recruitment process will be transparent and very objective. The public and the media will be informed of a date of presentations and everything else that follows.”
Professor Diescho also admitted to the Windhoek Observer that he had applied for the post, while the other candidates could not be reached for comment.
Professor Hangula replaced Professor Peter Katjavivi in 2003, when the latter left to become Namibia’s Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels.
Candidates’ qualifications and experience
Professor Gideon became UNAM Pro-Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in January, 2017.
The 41-year-old Gideon, who hails from Oshikuku in the Omusati region, previously served as the Dean of the Faculty of Science, the first Namibian to occupy the position.
Gideon is a UNAM graduate and associate professor in the Department of Mathematics. He obtained his PhD in applied Mathematics (Banking and Finance – Risk Management and Basel II) from North-West University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Science and Mathematics from Rhodes University.
Author of four books, Namhila was born at Ondobe village in northern Namibia in 1963, and went into exile when she was 12.
She was educated in Namibia, Angola, Zambia, The Gambia, and Finland, obtaining a MSSc in Library and Information Science at the University of Tampere, Finland.
She has worked as a researcher and librarian at the Multidisciplinary Research Centre, as a Deputy Director: Research, Information and Library Services at the Namibian Parliament, as a Director of Namibia Library and Archives Service in the Ministry of Education and as UNAM’s Librarian before she became PVC.
Professor Diescho, famous for being a fearless critic of the government, was born in Andara, Kavango region.
Diescho attended Fort Hare University in South Africa, where he studied law and political science. During his student days he worked against the apartheid system and was imprisoned in Peddie and East London.
He helped found a worker’s union while working for a diamond mine company.
In 1984, he became a Fulbright scholar at Columbia University in New York City, where he completed his PhD in Political Science in 1992.
His dissertation, The Role of Education in the Politics of Control in Namibia: 1948–1988, explored the relationship between politics and education in Namibia.
In 1988, he co-wrote Born of the Sun, and his second novel Troubled Waters was published in 1993.
Before returning to Namibia to take up the post of Executive Director of NIPAM from 1 July 2013 until December 2015, Prof Diescho worked for ten years as the Director and Head of Public and Development and International Relations at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria.
He was a Professor of International Law at the City University of New York Law School. He was an Extraordinary Professor of Politics at the University of Pretoria and Honorary Professor of Political and Governmental Studies at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
Professor Matengu holds a PhD in Human Geography (specialisation in Innovation, Technology and Development), Lic. Soc.Sc (Diffusion of Innovation), MSoc.Sc (Natural Resources and Tourism Development), Diploma in Environmental Law-Making and Diplomacy, from the University of Eastern Finland and has a BA (Sociology and Geography) from UNAM.
He first joined UNAM as a student research intern in 1997 in the Multidisciplinary Research Centre. His research interests, then and now, includes innovation and technology adoption factors, research and ethics, access with equity in higher education, rural water supply and community based management models.
To date, he has published more than 50 peer reviewed articles, books and book chapters, as well as international conference papers.
The 60-year-old Tjivikua was born in Otjomupanda, Otjozondjupa region and grew up in Oruuano in the then Ovitoto Reserve, and started primary school at St Barnabas Anglican Church School in Windhoek’s Old Location.
After completing High School at Windhoek’s Augustineum from 1976-1978, Tjivikua worked at the main branch of Barclays Bank (now First National Bank) in Windhoek.
He left Namibia in June 1979 to study Chemistry in the United States at Rockland Community College (1979–1980) and then Lincoln University (1980–1983), from which he graduated cum laude.
He then completed an MSc at the University of Lowelland, a PhD at the University of Pittsburgh and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
His thesis was on molecular recognition in organic chemistry. He was a well recognised researcher at the time, and worked as Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Lincoln University from 1990 to 1995 until he became NUST Rector.
Dr Ndjoze-Ojo has been a Member of the National Assembly since June 2013.
From 1978 to 1986, Ndjoze-Ojo taught at various high schools in Windhoek’s black and coloured townships of Katutura and Khomasdal.
Leaving Namibia in 1986, she went to Nigeria, where she studied and taught at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. She returned to Namibia in 1996 and began working for the University of Namibia’s language department.
She was also a Member of the National Assembly (appointed as non-voting) 2005- 2010, Deputy Minister of Education 2005 – 2010; Deputy Chairperson of Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM) Council in 2010.
The 65-year-old Mbuende served as Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2002- 2004 and as Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development between1990-1993.
He completed a PhD in Economic Sociology from Lund University, Sweden in 1986, a BA (Honours) Economic History and Sociology from Lund University.
In 2006, Dr Mbuende became Namibia’s Ambassador to the United Nations.