Varsities adopt illegal means to cope financially

Thursday March 8 2018

PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES

Kenya University Staff Union Secretary-General Charles Mukhwaya (left), flanked by other union leaders, addresses the Senate Education Committee on March 8, 2018. He said public universities are riddled with corruption. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OUMA WANZALA
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University staff on Thursday told the Senate Education Committee that their employers were creating “ghost workers” in order to get more funding from the government.

Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and Kenya University Staff Union (Kusu) told the committee, chaired by Christopher Langat, that universities had resorted to the illegal means in order to use the money that comes as a result of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to address some financial challenges in the institutions.

The secretary-general for Uasu, Dr Constantine Wasonga, asked the committee to order an audit of universities’ staff in order to bring transparency and accountability in higher learning institutions.

“We have some universities with two payrolls yet they have less than 1,000 staff. We must end this corruption in universities,” Dr Wasonga said.

CORRUPTION
He observed that due to lack of enough capitation, the universities were benefiting illegally from the proceeds of CBAs, citing their Sh7.8 billion in 2014, which vice-chancellors used to run university activities instead of paying salaries.

“We are also calling for the audit of students enrolled in universities as managements have been cooking figures for their own selfish gains and they are never ready to share the data with the government,” the Uasu official said.

Dr Charles Mukhwaya, Kusu secretary-general, echoed the same sentiments, adding that universities are now dens of corruption and poor management.

“We have to address this problem. Having ghost workers who are earning salaries is an issue that cannot be entertained,” Dr Mukhwaya said.

An audit conducted last year by a technical team that was constituted by universities’ management and three unions revealed that thousands of ghost workers were earning salaries in public universities.

EMPLOYEES

The audit report revealed inconsistencies in payrolls of various universities.

Whereas public universities submitted a report indicating that they had about 30,312 staff, the audit revealed that the institutions had 27,798 staff, a variance of 2,513.

Last year, National Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, in a letter to the Ministry of Education, also raised concern over ghost workers while releasing funds for payment of enhanced salaries and allowances for the 2013-2017 CBA.

Dr Thugge observed that requests for funding were based on estimated costs and not on the actual payroll as the ministry had asked for additional funding of Sh7.7 billion but after an audit, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors revised the figure down to Sh5.28 billion, which was based on the actual payrolls for university staff.