Court blocks UoN from scrapping old structure

University of Nairobi Towers [Phillip Orwa, Standard]

The Labour Court has barred the University of Nairobi from scrapping its old structure until a case filed by a lecturers’ union is heard and determined.

Justice Maureen Onyango saved five deputy vice-chancellors whose jobs are uncertain.

“The application dated July 19, 2021, is certified urgent and fixed for hearing on July 28, 2021. In the meantime, conservatory orders are granted in terms of prayer two of the application pending the interparty hearing of the application,” Justice Onyango ruled.

The orders by the court now further stir confusion as UoN’s Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kiama had on July 14, 2021, appointed Prof Julius Ogeng’o to head the newly created position of Associate Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs. Prof Mohamed Jama was appointed acting Executive Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences.

Prof Francis Mulaa was picked to head the Faculty of Science and Technologies on acting capacity while Prof Robert Rukwaro was to act as Executive Dean of Faculty of Built Environment. Brian Ouma was appointed the acting Chief Operations Officer.

The union argues that the new positions are parallel and mimic those advertised by PSC.

“The failure by the VC to abide by the law when making the appointments to public office was against the public interest, and it voided the said appointments for being contrary to the requirement,” the union said.

Uasu wants the court to bar the VC from implementing the governance reforms. At the same time, it wants the court to declare that the reforms were against the Constitution, the UoN’s Charter and Education Act.

The union further accuses Prof Kiama of usurping the role of the council. According to its court papers, the council has been silent about the ramifications of the changes, adding that there is no concurrent from both CUE and the Ministry of Education.

The union says the new structure has created illegal structures and that those who have been appointed to spearhead the new units were not competitively recruited.

“The petitioner states that the functions and roles of the respondents have to be undertaken in compliance with the law and not to be inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution. Any action taken by the respondents in breach of the law is a nullity ab initio,” Uasu argued.

The union claims Kiama has also abolished Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry and Economics faculties. 

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