NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – Egerton University Vice-Chancellor Prof Rose Mwonya has accused the University Council of acting unreasonably and recklessly by instituting an unfounded labour disciplinary process.
In court documents filed at the High Court in Nakuru, Prof Mwonya through her lawyer Senior Counsel Otiende Amollo has faulted University Council Chairperson Amb. Dr Hukka Wario, for filing a show-cause letter on matters that had been dealt with in an earlier legal process.
In the show cause letter signed by Amb. Dr Wario, the University Council, rescinded an earlier recommendation to the Cabinet Secretary for Education Prof George Magoha unreservedly recommending Prof Mwonya’s five-year contract renewal.
In court submissions, the VC accuseD the University Council of acting ultra vires by deliberately disregarding the Cabinet Secretary’s final decision-making powers as the appointing authority for Vice Chancellors.
“The Respondent acted ultra vires by deliberately disregarding the final decision-making power of the Cabinet Secretary, and Instead frustrating the ex-parte Applicant by prematurely forcing her out even before a decision is made and communicated on her application for a second term, breaching sections 4 and 6 of the Fair Administrative Action Act,” Senior Counsel Amollo said in an affidavit.
In her letter to the Chairperson of the University Council, Prof Mwonya disputes the charges levelled against her in a show-cause letter seeking to institute disciplinary proceedings against her. The charges listed in the letter, she contends are the same as those earlier levelled against her leading to her proceeding on compulsory leave two years ago.
Back then, the charges, she said had led to a protracted legal battle and were found as null and void in a ruling delivered by Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Monica Mbaru in 2019.
“Take note that bringing the same charges against me amounts to double jeopardy as I cannot be tried twice over the same cases. This will lead us to the same corridors of justice again. As we engage in sideshows and fights, the core mandate of the University suffers,” Prof Mwonya writes, adding that, “Just as the Court found me innocent, I still maintain the same and find no reason why any disciplinary action should be taken against me.”
Before sending out the show cause letter to Prof Mwonya dated 13th November 2020, Amb. Dr Wario had notified Cabinet Secretary Magoha of the University Council’s recommendation to reappoint her as the Vice-Chancellor for a second term.
“I unreservedly recommend Professor Rose A. Mwonya for renewal of service as Vice-Chancellor Egerton University, for the second and final five-year term,” wrote Amb. Dr Wario to Prof Magoha in a letter dated 10th August 2020.
In an interesting turn of events, Amb. Dr Wario recently purported to send Prof Mwonya on terminal leave pending her retirement and appointed prof Issac Kibwage as the acting Vice-Chancellor.
In response, Prof Mwonya moved to the high court under a certificate of urgency and was granted an injunction on 30th November 2020 by Justice Hellen Wasilwa sitting in Nakuru. In the ex-parte orders, Justice Wasilwa directed that the appointment of Prof Kibwage by the University Council had been suspended pending the hearing of the case.
“In compliance with section 39 (1) (a) of the Universities Act, the Respondent’s chairperson through the reasoned letter of 10/8/2020 unreservedly recommended to the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Education that the ex-parte Applicant’s service as Vice-Chancellor be renewed for a second term, positively endorsing her performance track record.
However, the Respondent suddenly and maliciously turned around with deliberate intent to pre-empt any decision by the Cabinet Secretary on the pending application for renewal of the term, and recklessly rushed its decision to instead force the ex-parte Applicant into terminal leave and replacing her with an acting Vice-Chancellor without any justification,” said Senior Counsel Amollo.