Pon in the Soup Over Funding

The Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) should use the State funding it receives sparingly instead of crying foul over purported lack of State funding, counselled the Minister of Education, Dr David Namwandi.

The country’s second-biggest tertiary institution has been on record on several occasions lamenting the fact that the funding it receives from Treasury is not commensurate with the magnitude of its academic operations.

“It is high time the Polytechnic leadership puts its house in order. We are sick and tired that year in year out it’s just money, money and it’s just one institution that is giving us a headache. They must learn how to live within their means,” charged Namwandi.

Namwandi warned that his ministry would institute a forensic audit to assess how the institution manages the huge budgetary allocation it receives from the State.

He also accused the institution of wanting to hold government “hostage under the pretext of being underfunded”.

Namwandi was reacting to Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, Professor Tjama Tjivikua, who last week claimed that government continues to under-fund the institution.

Tjivikua claimed that the limited funding particularly affects the institution’s research programmes.

“The research section is lacking funding, as the current status is relatively under-developed with relatively low contribution to economic development. How do they expect us to produce the best and meet Vision 2030, if we are lacking funding in research?” Tjivikua questioned.

Namwandi hit back saying, “As I have been saying in the past that Poly soon to be a University of Science and Technology is owned by government. Government cares about the growth of the institution, employees and, of course, the students.”

Recently, Namwandi said the Polytechnic Council tried to investigate as per aice of the investigation committee but was blocked by the PoN leadership. “Certainly, if you have nothing to hide, why should you be scared of being investigated. Let Poly leadership not mislead the public into believing they are being victimised. Why should they be victimised if the institution belongs to government? They must learn how to manage their finances,” he said.

Further, Namwandi said the Polytechnic is fully aware of government’s plans together with developing partners, the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), who have numerous funding frameworks in place for public institutions.

“This funding framework is administered by the National Council of Higher Education and it will be implemented this year. The funding framework will be a just and equitable mechanism of subsidies for public intuitions. One wonders why Polytechnic is still complaining about the funding procedures yet they know that this year a new funding regime will emerge,” said Namwandi.

According to Namwandi, together with the Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, they were tasked by Cabinet to source funding for the institution last year after it made a request for additional funds.

“It is disheartening that while we are busy researching where we can get funding for Polytechnic, the leadership, on the other hand, is attacking the Ministry of Education. I find it very disturbing. Is it because they want sympathy from the public and make it look as if the ministry is not doing anything?” he asked.

According to Namwandi, Tjivikua is known for having rocky relationships with all former education ministers who served in Cabinet following the inception of the Polytechnic because of funding.

“I have observed that since Poly’s inception under the leadership of Nahas Angula, Nangolo Mbumba and the late Dr Abraham Iyambo, they (Poly) complained about funding and again they are complaining,” said Namwandi.

Poly sources informed New Era that government last year had to make an additional cash injection of about N$250 million to save the institution from its financial woes after it begged for more funds from Treasury.

The source further claims that the Polytechnic also revealed that the institution received a loan of N$1 million from the Development Bank of Namibia.

Asked whether the rife speculation that there is bad blood between himself and Tjivikua holds any water, Namwandi simply laughed off the claims and said that he has nothing against Tjivikua.

“I have never victimised anyone because of personal differences. If my younger brother has a problem, I cannot speak for him. I want the institution to be managed professionally. I have never criticised Tjivukua. Let people not use something that is not there to justify what is not there. We have a mission to accomplish first, personal differences has never built any nation. The road is very long and thorny, we want to achieve Vision 2030 as a team,” he maintained.

He encouraged PoN to focus on strengthening research and consultancy, adding that, “they can’t expect government to give them everything, it’s not possible whether Namwandi is there or not”.

Tjivikua was not available for comment yesterday by the time of going to print.

Source : New Era