Namwandi Urges Unam to Cut Graduation Costs … Tells University to Find a Cheaper Venue

EDUCATION Minister David Namwandi has expressed concern over the high rents the University of Namibia pays to hold graduation ceremonies at the Safari Court Hotel in Windhoek.

Both the university and hotel management were tight-lipped on the charges, citing the confidential clause as a reason, but The Namibian understands it cost the institution more than N$500 000 a day.

Speaking during the university’s graduation ceremony on Friday, Namwandi said it was time a cheaper venue was found to save money that can be used on other things.

Namwandi also said he did not like the set up which left some parents without seats.

“They had the wrong people in the hall, parents should have been the ones seated inside and not us,” Namwandi said.

He suggested that the university should rather hold events at their soccer stadium and put up a tent to prevent anyone from being locked out, as it will be out in the open.

“This is like holding rallies. They can renovate their stadium. I have seen similar things happening elsewhere in the world,” he said.

Safari Hotel managing director Johnnie Hamman said the minister’s comment was unprofessional and uncalled for.

“I am quite surprised that the minister made such a comment although he is entitled to whatever comments he wants to make. It is uncalled for because he has never been involved in the organising of the event,” Hamman said.

According to Hamman, the university has, for the past 18 years, been a good client, and that there was an option to decline or reject the hotel’s offer.

“We, however, give them favourable rates, which is why they take up the offer,” he explained, adding that there is no other hall to accommodate such a number of people in Namibia.

The university’s public relations officer, John Haufiku, also said because of their long-standing relationship and agreement with the hotel, they have been able to enter an agreement that provides for preferential rates.

“It is also common cause that the Unam is not the only institution of higher learning that utilises the venue in question for graduations,” he said.

Haufiku further pointed out that the lack of appropriate venues on the main campus was because it was built during colonial times to serve as a College of Education for whites only and had a capacity of 400 students.

“Currently, the campus accommodates over 10 000 students on a daily basis without commensurate facilities. As a result, the university does not have venues big enough to accommodate graduates, parents and esteemed invited guests for functions such as graduation ceremonies,” he said.

Haufiku added that finding a venue in Windhoek that can comfortably accommodate 3 000 students plus guests with additional storage and support services required during graduation is quite difficult.

He said plans are underway for the construction of a multi-functional hall to meet all current and future needs.

“In the interim, the university will continue to explore alternative solutions, including the possibility of holding graduation ceremonies per faculty over a number of days, since the venue at the Safari Hotel is not able to accommodate the growing number of graduating students and their guests each year,” Haufiku concluded.

Source : The Namibian