Windhoek High Court Judge Hannelie Prinsloo yesterday dismissed an application by University of Namibia professor Frednard Gideon to review and set aside The Namibia University of Science and Technology’s decision to appoint Erold Naomab ahead of him as vice chancellor.
Reasons for the judgement will be provided at a later stage.
Gideon who was one of the candidates interviewed for the NUST vice chancellor position, had approached the High Court in November 2020 to seek a court order that would review and set aside NUST’s decision to appoint Naomab.
He thus wants the court to declare Naomab’s appointment as irrational, unfair and unlawful.
Furthermore, any employment agreement and remuneration entered into by NUST and Naomab should be declared invalid.
He also wants the court to revert the matter for reconsideration to the chairperson of NUST’s council. Naomab was announced as NUST vice chancellor by the institution’s council on 13 November 2020. He subsequently signed his employment offer.
An urgent application filed by Gideon in November 2020 was dismissed by Windhoek High Court Acting Judge Kobus Miller for lack of urgency.
During oral submission before court, NUST claimed Gideon was untruthful during his public presentation.
The university said they did not take this lightly as integrity was an integral characteristic in choosing its preferred candidate. Gideon has since denied the allegations that he inflated the numbers of master’s and PhD thesis students (30 000) he has supervised and 90 scientific papers he has published.
NUST’s lawyer Jan Meiring said the university was not pleased with Gideon’s public misrepresentation of facts that did not correlate with information within his CV. The university saw it as a “blemish on his integrity”.
Gideon’s lawyer, Sisa Namandje, argued that since the first advertisement was placed in 2019, Gideon was doomed to fail. In January 2020, NUST decided to re-advertise the position, even after Gideon was the overall best performer in the first round.
The joint search committee of the council decided to lower the recruitment requirements to give more Namibians an opportunity to contend for the position. Namandje said even with the second recruitment process, Gideon still outperformed his opponents. 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.
Naomab’s lawyer, Norman Tjombe, argued that the joint search committee and the senate submitted a report to the council, after which the latter appointed him as vice chancellor of the university. He argued that Gideon has failed to present evidence that Naomab’s appointment was irrational insofar as the university is concerned.
“As we stated at the outset, it has not been alleged that Dr Naomab is incompetent or otherwise unfit for the statutory office of vice chancellor,” said Tjombe.