UASU raises red flag on job vacancies

UASU raises red flag on job vacancies

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A move by the University of Nairobi to place two adverts on two job vacancies at the institution has raised concern among the university fraternity and UASU. The positions are those of deputy director, Graduate School and the other position of deputy principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

It is worth noting that while it was indicated in the advert that the position of the deputy director for the graduate school was equivalent to that of a deputy principal of a college, the requirements were at variance.

Insiders well versed with qualifications benchmark say that whereas that for the deputy principal of the college of Humanities and Social Sciences had the proper requirements that have over the years been used, the glaring irregularity in those advertisements was the period within which the applicants were required to submit their applications.

While the advert was done on Friday January 13 2017, the applicants were to forward their 10 copies of their application letters together with a detailed curriculum vitae within seven days. Thus the deadline date was given as January 16 2017 at 5pm. The applications were to be addressed to vice-chancellor Peter Mbithi.

An official of University Academic Staff Union, UASU, who noticed the anomaly claims, the adverts were in contravention of the public procurement and disposal Act 2005 and regulations 2006 and practice at the premier institution.

To him, such senior positions are given at least three weeks in order to give would be interested persons as much time and publicity as possible to ensure that those interested are accorded fair opportunity to submit their applications.

Sources say the management had tailored the qualifications and requirements to favour a person it had in mind. However, UASU were in for a surprise, come Monday January 16 2017 upon realising they had fixed themselves. Another advert was done again whose subject matter was to cancel and replace the advert for the position of the deputy principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences that had earlier appeared.

The Monday January 16 2017 advert watered down the requirements for the position of the deputy principal.  Of particular is the removal of the requirement of Chapter Six of the constitution on leadership and integrity which all public officers are expected to subscribe to. The advert removed in entirety the important requirements that were in the January 16 2017 that have been the standard requirements for the position of deputy principal of colleges and top management, suffice to say the position of deputy principal is a member of university management. The deleted requirements include states inter alia that for the appointment of the position of deputy principal, a person shall:

  1. Be a professor and a holder of an earned doctorate qualification from a university recognised in Kenya was retained.
  2. Have thorough knowledge of the structural, legislative and regulatory framework for administering university education in Kenya was removed in its entirety.
  3. Have five years handson experience at a senior level in a university or equivalent institution with demonstrable leadership and management capacity including knowledge of public financial management and strategic people management was replaced with They should have at least three years of experience at senior management level.
  4. Be an accomplished scholar with proven track record in formulating and managing academic programmes and supervising and mentoring masters and PhD students was replaced with they should have managed academic programmes and discharged administrative responsibilities.
  5. Have a proven track record of research and publications in peer reviewed journals, monographs and books was replaced with – Be avid researchers
  6. Have demonstratable experience in networking, fundraising and resource mobilisation was replaced with be avid fundraisers.
  7. Meet the requirements of Chapter Six of the constitution of Kenya 2010 on leadership and integrity was replaced with Be persons of high integrity and proven management and leadership skills.
  8. Have a demonstratable experience in transformative and strategic leadership was replaced with “Play a leading role in the ongoing change and transformation process”.

On appointment the following caption was removed in its entirety

“As per the universities Act 2012, University of Nairobi Charter and Statutes, the deputy principal shall hold office for duration of five years with possibility of one term renewal for a further term of five years subject to a positive appraisal by the council”.

On how to apply all the following were removed in their entirety

  1. Each application shall be accompanied by a detailed curriculum vitae, copies of relevant academic and professional certificates, national identity card or passport, testimonials, and other relevant supporting documents
  2. Applicants must also submit the following:
    • Clearance from Kenya Revenue Authority
    • Clearance from Higher Education Loans Board
    • Clearance from Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission
    • Certificate of good conduct from Criminal Investigation Department
    • Clearance Certificate from credit reference bureau
  3. Persons who had applied in the previous advertisement need not apply.

It is worth noting that the position of deputy principal for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences had been advertised last year. Prof Mbithi had Jane Mariara earmarked for the position. However, Prof Mariara fell out of favour with Mbithi and was replaced as the Director of the School of Economics with Urbanus Kioko. Prof Mariara proceeded on her leave of absence leaving Prof Mbithi to go back to the drawing board. It is said, the following are being earmarked for this position; Kameri Mbote, Winnie Mitulla, Maria Nzomo and Judith Bahemuka.

One cannot understand why the advertisement was watered down. The professors and UASU who are a demoralised lot reckon that the advertisements are a mere formality as the persons earmarked to take these positions are already known. The short time application duration given to the applicants is meant to reduce competition as many would be applicants will not be able to apply in such a short time. The requirements were removed to imply that to obtain the documents take more than, say about three weeks and sometimes one may miss one or two of the documents and thus be disqualified. To make the case watertight for Mbithi, the requirements had been Okayed by Mbithi himself.

Word doing round at the institution is that Mbithi wants Dr Farah, the council chairman whose term ends on February 7 2017 re-appointed. However, a section at the institution has sworn to move to court and block the bid.

Education cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i of late has his guns trained on universities management.

New UASU officials are wondering what it is that Prof Mbithi knows that they do not know as most of his omissions and commissions are contrary to any conventional wisdom as UASU are used to.

The officials say the leadership of Mbithi at the University of Nairobi for the last two years can be at best described as chaotic and catastrophic. To them, his leadership is characterised at best by a litany of plunder of public resources, abuse of power, tribalism, nepotism, corruption, deception, and systematic erosion of the institution’s rich heritage of academic excellence, freedom of expression, consultative approach to management  issues and the pride to belong. Prof Mbithi management style has left his admirers and critics dumbfounded.

The management has dismantled and emasculated all the management structures that run the university. First, he has taken over the finance docket of the premier university first by ensuring that only he can approve any expenditure above Sh100,000 in the entire university rendering the principals of colleges, the deans and chairmen of departments irrelevant. He has also ensured that all appointments at the university are approved by one person. The administration docket to is controlled by the VC office where he is the sole authority to grant post retirement contract.

For now, public university workers began their national strike on Thursday January 18 2017. This is after Kusu and Uasu failed to agree on the implementation of a 2013-2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement which the unions signed with the university councils. The unions were offered a 3pc increase in staff salaries.

As if to incite staff against the government, Uasu officials say Mbithi has gone ahead to show that some sacred staff can have increments of monies running into millions. Last week, we brought an exposé of how Mbithi used an upward of Sh300 million to compromise DVCs, principals and deputy principals of colleges, deans, directors, senior administrators and chairmen of departments by way of paying them some enhanced responsibility, transport and entertainment allowances which were backdated to July 1 2015. These payments were secretly deposited in the people’s accounts on December 23 2016 for a rosy Christmas. When people called salaries section to ask where the money had come from, they were told to withdraw and use it because it belongs to them, without more explanation. However, after launching the workers strike at the Chancellor’s Court, the deans, directors and chairmen of departments were the first casualties as their seminar held in CCU next to the Chancellor’s Court was disrupted by the striking workers. In essence, Uasu officials say the enhanced payments made to the DVCs, principals and deputy principals of colleges, deans, directors, senior administrators and chairmen of departments was to make the rest of staff angrier so that their resolve to go on strike is fuelled.

Our mole in the University Management said Mbithi is fuelling the strike in order to frustrate Fred Matiang’i’s effort to reconstitute the council.

Credible information has it that management wants to derail the constitution of the council and that is why the strike is on to cause more confusion. Students are also planning to go to the streets. The striking workers must brace themselves for collision with their deans, directors and chairmen of departments as they have promised Mbithi that they will immediately and willingly crack the whip on striking members of staff.

Already, there is disquiet in the finance department emanating from money that was shared out on interest income accruing from all the monies held in the various university bank accounts. An upward of Sh20 million was shared. Junior heads of units in the finance department were given peanuts.The university continues to go deeper into a financial crisis. The dons we talked to are now hopeful that things will change for the better   now that the man of the cloth who took over at the Integrity Centre will swing with speed to save the situation at the premier institution.

 

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