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Nust VC appointment saga heads to High Court

2020-11-27  Maria Amakali

Nust VC appointment saga heads to High Court
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The battle to take over the reins at the University of Science and Technology (Nust) is far from over as Professor Frednard Gideon has approached the High Court seeking interim relief on an urgent basis.

In his founding affidavit, Gideon is seeking an order that will set aside any employment agreement and remuneration entered into by Nust and Dr Erold Naomab to be declared invalid.  On 13 November, the Nust council announced Naomab as the new vice-chancellor effective January next year. Naomab signed his employment offer on 13 November.
In his application, Gideon who lost out to Naomab, is claiming that he was overlooked for the position despite being found to be the overall best performer during the recruitment process and recommended for the position by the joint selection committee.

The shortlisted candidates went through a rigorous selection process which comprised of psychometric assessments, public presentations and an interview focused on key performance areas.
“It is very clear, as far as both quantitative and qualitative processes are concerned, that I performed considerably better than the fifth respondent (Naomab),” said Gideon.

According to court documents, Gideon scored 68% in two quantitative assessments while Naomab scored 64%. However, their scores are below the 70% mark set for the top candidate.
In respect of the interview, Naomab got a total score of 64 whilst Gideon scored 67. For public presentation, Gideon obtained a score of 73.44, while Naomab scored 74.48.

“Simply to decide in the manner that substantively ignores the outcome of the assessments and interviews makes the rigorous recruitment process nugatory and futile. Ultimate identification of the candidate was thus arbitrary and irrational,” said Gideon. 

Gideon is claiming that the council chose Professor Kenneth Matengu as his referee when he was not part of his list. He further claims the council heavily relied on Matengu’s report. Gideon explained he is opposed to Matengu being used as his referee as they were competitors for the position of vice-chancellor at the University of Namibia (Unam) – a position he currently holds.

Gideon further claims that the Nust council failed to apply its mind when it overlooked his years of experience and the fact that Naomab currently is reporting to him at Unam.
“I would therefore not have any other effective remedy or substantial redress in due course other than an order setting aside the appointment and refer the matter back to the first respondent (Nust council) to deal with the matter fairly and objectively,” noted Gideon.

Gideon approached the court after the Nust council failed to give him reasons why he was overlooked for the position.
However, last week the Nust council through its legal representative Patrick Kauta defended its decision, stating that the Joint Search Committee of Council and Senate by a majority recommended Naomab for the appointment on 12 November.
The urgent application hearing is scheduled to take place on 4 December. 

2020-11-27  Maria Amakali

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