Court to decide UoN VC Stephen Kiama's fate today

Wednesday March 18 2020
Kiama

Prof Stephen Gitahi Kiama is pictured at the University of Nairobi during the launch of its council's strategic plan for 2019-2024. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By OUMA WANZALA

University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama will today know whether he will continue to head the institution.

Labour Court Justice Maureen Onyango is expected to make a ruling on the appointment of Prof Kiama which was revoked by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha in January but later suspended by the court.

DIALOGUE

This is after Prof Magoha sought 30 days last month in to give dialogue a chance and avoid unnecessary litigations in Court. Prof Magoha had appointed Prof Isaac Mbeche to act in that position.

“Yes the matter is coming up today [Thursday] . I gave my legal team authority to engage the Ministry so that we solve this issue amicably,” said Prof Kiama.

While revoking Prof Kiama' appointment, Prof Magoha argued that then university council, which he also dissolved, did not consider the government's input in filling the position. Prof Magoha also claimed that someone was pulling strings and wanted to destroy the university.

The Statue Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) 2018, provides that the Public Service Commission carries out the competitive exercise before it forwards the candidates' results to the council for appointment in consultation with the CS.

LITIGATIONS

The Ministry of Education has been unable to make substantive appointments of vice-chancellors, their deputies and principals of colleges due to several litigations.

The Amendment of the Universities Act 2012 took away the power of university councils to advertise, interview and recommend for appointment top university managers.

Those holding administrative positions in acting capacity in institutions of higher learning have not been able to make executive decisions for their respective institutions.

Garissa University is among institutions with pending cases in court over appointment of the vice-chancellor since last year.

At Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, all top four managers are also holding the positions in acting capacity despite interviews having been conducted mid last year.

The vacant positions are those of vice-chancellor and deputy vice-chancellors academic and students affairs, administration and finance) and planning, research and innovation.

ACTING CAPACITY

At Taita Taveta University, Prof Fred Simiyu Barasa, is acting vice-chancellor after he replaced Prof Hamadi Boga who was appointed Agriculture Principal Secretary in 2018. At Garissa University, PSC has also advertised the recruitment of vice-chancellor.

At Moi University, Prof Daniel Tarus is holding the DVC finance position in acting capacity. At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University, Prof Washington Olima is holding the planning and administration position in acting capacity.

Last year, vice-chancellors warned that the decision to give power to PSC to recruit top administrators for the institutions was undermining their academic freedom. Prof Magoha has since indicated that the government will review the appointment of university administrators.  

Best human resource practices require that those in acting capacities hold the positions for about six months before a competitive recruitment is done.