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Unam under fire for banning political activism on campus – News

The University of Namibia (Unam) has been criticized for its decision to ban political activism on campus, with some political parties saying the decision has the potential to stifle students’ constitutional rights to align, support and express their political opinions. .

The university caused a stir when it banned the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) Student Command from hosting its planned on-campus meeting last week.

The university’s decision has provoked negative reactions from different political parties, while analysts feel that the issue must be treated with fairness and balance between freedom of association and the policies that govern the institution.

The Student Command of the Landless Movement (LPM) has demanded that Unam’s vice chancellor of finance, administration and resource mobilization, Ellen Namhila, revoke the directive prohibiting political activities on the university campuses.

LPM Khomas Youth Command Element leader Junia Kaindjee expressed disappointment in the directive, describing it as a violation of constitutional rights and academic freedom.

“The Constitution of Namibia grants all citizens, including students and academics, the right to peaceful political activities under Article 17,” he says, adding that Unam has a history of hosting political events.

Kaindjee said there is no reason to issue such a directive as there is a peaceful political atmosphere in Unam.

In a letter seen by The Namibian, Namhila urged the Unam leadership to take proactive measures to ensure that facilities and venues are not used for campaigning, recruitment or political activities.

Junia Kaindjee

Unam spokesperson Simón Nameso states that the university is studying the matter.

“The University of Namibia takes note of the press release issued by the LPM Youth Command. We will offer more comments on this matter later,” he states.

Meanwhile, the Namibia National Students Organization (Nanso) agrees that the university is violating the constitutional rights of students to exercise their political rights, which extend to campus grounds.

Nanso president Dorthea Nangolo says students should be allowed to fully exercise their rights, as long as they act within the university’s policies and regulations.

“There are youth leagues of various political parties. It makes no sense to limit the participation of these parties in political activities,” he states.

Nangolo says this year is crucial due to the upcoming national elections, so it is worrying to limit students’ democratic rights by not allowing them full participation.

Dorthea Nangolo

“We have contacted the student representative council and they have assured us that they are consulting with management as we speak. Let us hope that this way they can find an amicable solution that defends the rights of students to political affiliation and allows the registered political bodies to continue with their mandates and carry out their work at the institutional level,” she says.

The AR Student Command was the first to fall victim to the directive as they were denied the celebration of their official inauguration on campus.

AR national spokesperson George Kambala says the directive undermines students’ rights to assemble and associate with any political party or religion.

He says this is unfair treatment and that Swapo is favored over opposition parties.

“Just one day before we were detained, the Swapo student body held an event,” says Kambala.

“I implore you to refrain from doing so and allow all students to participate fairly,” he says.

Political analyst Ben Mulongeni says there should be balance, because as much as there is freedom, it must be understood that there are also policies.

“As long as we don’t allow universities to become political arenas, allow fights or be seen as taking sides, then the activities should be allowed,” he says.

Mulongeni says universities are centers of excellence because students must be taught and prepared for the future as they are the future leaders.

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