The University of Namibia is investigating Affirmative Repositioning movement head Job Amupanda, a lecturer at the university, over alleged misconduct.
The charges Amupanda faces relates to his political activities, at national level and as a Windhoek municipal councillor.
At the heart of the investigation is whether or not Amupanda, as a Unam employee, can dare to dream of occupying the highest office in the land – the Presidency.
In May, Amupanda said he does not only dream of becoming Namibia’s fourth democratically-elected president, he has in fact already started preparing his acceptance speech.
This rhetoric was accompanied by the erection of billboards bearing his face in several towns, including Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Ondangwa.
“One of the major questions being asked to Dr [Amupanda] by Unam is if it is legal for him to announce that he is running for president through those billboards. But that is not new. They never asked him anything when he announced through billboards that he was running for Windhoek mayor in 2020,” a source briefed on the matter said.
It is further rumoured that Amupanda used office hours as a Unam employee to conduct his political activities, particularly at the City.
Unam, this reporter is reliably informed, intends to recover monies it paid to Amupanda, for which no work was rendered to the university.
“There are reports that Dr Amupanda never declared that he is being paid by the City of Windhoek. He allegedly told Unam that he was doing community service on a pro bono basis. But we all know that local authority councillors are paid.
“Unam is also demanding that Amupanda pays back money he was paid by the university and never worked for. It is alleged that he was attending council meetings instead of teaching,” said another person familiar with the investigation.
A seat in the Windhoek municipal council comes with lucrative perks and benefits.
As things stand, the Windhoek mayor receives a monthly salary of N$43 000, while the deputy takes home N$39 000.
The management committee (MC) chairperson is entitled to a monthly salary of N$36 000, while the remaining four management committee members receive N$32 000.
The eight ordinary councillors are paid N$30 000 each.
On the transport front, the deputy mayor gets N$8 700 per month, while the MC chairperson gets N$8 000.
Management committee members receive N$7 000 as transport allowance, while ordinary councillors get N$6 000.
On top of this, the monthly allowance for council meetings is N$2 300, MC and extraordinary meetings N$1 500, while workshops, presentations and site visits earn councillors N$1 000.
Meanwhile, a university insider had this to say: “There’s really no strong case against Amupanda because he has always shared his schedule with the officials at Unam regarding his outside work. As for the council meetings he attends, it is common that they mostly take place during the evening hours. He’s off at that time as it is after working hours.”
The said investigation comes at a time when Amupanda has had run-ins with the higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi over funds she was paid by institutions resorting under her purview to cater for her upkeep while on foreign missions.
It is funds which the higher education ministry later repaid to the respective institutions.
Kandjii-Murangi did not respond to detailed questions sent to her.
It also comes at a time when Amupanda has written to the university’s council probing why the advanced payments were made to Kandjii-Murangi, while the university’s employees are allegedly denied the same.
The university elected not to respond to most of the questions, citing employer-employee confidentiality.
“Dr Job Amupanda and Mr Kennedy Mbangu are employees of the University of Namibia. The university regards internal processes and or proceedings pertaining to employees as confidential. This position is rooted in our commitment to respecting the rights of both staff and the institution itself.
“We would like to emphasise that internal staff matters are confidential in nature, and it is our policy to respect the privacy of our employees and our internal processes,” was the response by Unam spokesperson Simon Namesho.
Last year, Unam suspended Mbangu, its director for strategic and institutional planning for allegedly sexually harassing female colleagues.
Amupanda, on his part, was hesitant to respond when approached earlier this week.
“I cannot comment on these matters because doing so will send those under the control of the corrupt minister to an early Christmas. I can, however, confirm that there has been external interference in my employer-employee relationship which I have raised with the employer formally,” Amupanda stated briefly.
Unam could not say whether or not their investigation into Amupanda was coincidental or if it was politically motivated.
However, the university was quick to note that its staff members are at liberty to engage in political activities.
“This includes among others the right to be members of political parties, attend public political gatherings and engage in political discussions,” Namesho added.
He, however, hastened to say “it is important to emphasise that while employed by the university, staff members are not allowed to hold office or occupy parliamentary positions on account of any political party structure.”
“As an academic institution committed to nurturing an environment of inclusivity and diversity, we recognise the individual rights and freedoms. This recognition is balanced with the imperative of ensuring that such activities do not infringe on the rights of others and the core functions and mission of the university,” Namesho continued.
Consequently, if any staff member desires to participate in active political activities, which are permitted by the university’s policies, “they have to apply for unpaid leave which may be considered”.
“This leave enables them to dedicate time to their political engagements without negative implications on their employment obligations. Further, it is expected that staff members disclose their involvement or appointments to external bodies, especially when these commitments necessitate substantial time away from work,” Namesho further explained.
He was not done: “In such instances, staff members are responsible for applying for private work and applying for the necessary leave.”