Namibia budget boost

January 27, 1995

Vice chancellor Peter Katjavivi hopes an increased budget will end the still rumbling dispute at the University of Namibia which led to a student march to the home of President Sam Nujoma last May.

He said: "The crisis was set off by lack of funding. We were not provided with an adequate budget. We have now received an additional supplement."

He added that a lot of comment in the newspapers was by people who were not necessarily friends of the university. "They are trying to derail it and I am not going to let them."

Last autumn, the university advertised for two pro vice chancellors, one to cover administration and finance, the other academic affairs and research. Shortlists have been drawn up.

The student march led to a commission of inquiry headed by ombudsman Jariretundu Kozon-guizi, the outcome of which was effectively a draw between Dr Katjavivi and his critics.

The commission supported allegations that procedures were ignored in some appointments and that not only staff from the pre-independence Academy of Tertiary Education but also Namibians not associated with the academy felt marginalised.

However, evidence was not published for reasons of confidentiality, making the strength of the findings hard to assess; and the commission did not recommend any radical change. The university council pointed out that a proposal for the new pro vice chancellors to have independent powers contravened the University Act. The inquiry commission recognised Dr Katjavivi's efforts to promote national and international understanding.

Part of the background to the dispute is that Dr Katjavivi recruited key assistants from outside Namibia. Those members of the former academy staff who strongly backed Namibia's independence movement felt left out. Moreover, outside recruits got higher pay because they were financed by overseas agencies.

Dr Katjavivi wrote in the New Era newspaper in October: "We are fortunate to have at the university a number of new staff members with high international distinction and recognition. The overwhelming wish of the staff and students at this university is to work together for a common purpose." He said that he was determined to work closely with the student representative council.

The University of Namibia has 5,000 students. Dr Katjavivi, who was a well-liked spokesman for Swapo in exile, has aimed to gear the university to Namibia's needs.

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