The International University of Management attempted to quash growing indignation among its Namibian faculty as many face unemployment following notice that their contracts will not be renewed.
Some of the lecturers, employed by IUM at various campuses, have expressed dismay over the university’s decision not to renew their employment contracts at the expense of their foreign counterparts.
The aggrieved Namibian lecturers claim that the IUM management last year gave them a notice that their five-year contracts would not be renewed for the 2022 academic year. This decision did not go down well with some, who alleged that the institution is sidelining them at the expense of foreigners whose contracts have allegedly been renewed.
“We have been informed that our contracts will no longer be renewed for the 2022 academic year. We feel it’s unfair that foreigners’ contracts have been renewed at our expense, while IUM clearly states that preference will be given to suitably qualified Namibian citizens and to designated categories as prescribed by the Namibian Affirmative Action Act, especially people living with disabilities,” complained a Nkurenkuru-based lecturer.
Another affected lecturer based at IUM’s Dorado Park main campus charged that IUM has been giving employment to foreign nationals at their expense, claiming that the university does not want to remunerate staff in accordance with their qualifications.
“Management doesn’t want to renew most local lecturers’ contracts because they don’t want to pay people their deserved salaries. The foreigners are given preference because they accept whatever salary is given to them without complaining.
We feel it’s really unfair, while big universities such as the University of Namibia (Unam) and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) are backing up local lecturers and getting rid of foreigners,” he countered.
Contacted for comment, IUM director for marketing, communication and stakeholders’ engagement Gerry Munyama said an employment contract is a matter between the employer and employee. It is on this basis that he finds it morally and professionally ill-advised to discuss such matters on media platforms.
“However, in reference to the dissatisfaction expressed towards the apparent renewal of employment contracts of foreign employees at the expense of Namibian nationals, I must observe in no uncertain terms that such utterances are not only highly misplaced and regrettable, but are dangerously reckless too. IUM, being a fine university of high note, guards its brand jealously and with great caution against any potential damage,” he stated.
Munyama defended IUM as a law-abiding institution, where all employment contracts between the institution and its employees are entered into and executed in good faith within the strictest confines of Namibian labour law.
“To us, such claims, therefore, lack substance. It simply smells of xenophobic rot and must be buried fast and in the deepest hole,” he reacted.
Munyama cautioned that there are unfortunately people in society who tend to resort to stirring up public emotions and anger by twisting facts whenever things do not go their way, and that this could be dangerous.
He thus advised Namibians to at all times guard against every drop of unreasonable fear of hatred towards foreigners.
According to him, world history has at numerous occasions recorded horrible acts, and in recent years, unforgettable and distressful acts were committed by mankind against fellow mankind as a result of xenophobia.
Equally, Munyama said, it is a scourge that easily breeds an atmosphere of hostility and distrust that could explode into violence, or in the least have serious negative impacts on economies.
In the case of higher education institutions, he believes this can deprive them of skills and expertise to facilitate crucial academic programmes and activities when such need arises.
He could, however, not provide the exact number of local and international staff as the institution is still closed.
Conversely, during November 2021, NUST took a decision not to renew the contracts of foreign lecturers and to have them re-apply.
According to media reports, as many as 80 lecturers were given letters to thank them for their services. It has also been reported that these foreign lecturers were instructed to contact human resources to make repatriation arrangements.