It has come to our notice of the proposal to review the current 2014 Statutes. While we are aware of the need for the university to move on in meeting the demands of the changing world, in her effort to sitting in the leagues of top universities in Kenya (in the face of the recent dismal ranking of the university ,University Ranking )we are concerned with the nature of the rush the review is being given. More so, all officers in top management are in acting positions, and the university is in a transition waiting the appointment of substantive officers, vis-à-vis; the Vice Chancellor, the DVCs, the Registrars. Or else what we see is an effort of the current acting officers to either be on a move to serving self-interests, like creating positions for themselves, extending their years of service to the university (through the back door of perverting the law beyond the normal retirement age specified in the current statute), or fighting imaginary wars of stopping anyone not in their favor to being appointed to the top offices.
We make this blog as an eye opener to innocent unsuspecting senators who may not be in the know of what is been brought before them during the special senate meeting to be held on the 24th July, 2019. In this regard, we present to you a few key points on why you should stand and be counted by rejecting the prayer to be brought before you by the acting Registrar AA, Prof Thomas Sakwa, to approve the draft document, called “Draft Statutes 2019”.
But first, here are three clear points you must note and endeavor to remember:
- Statutes are laws, hence should be brief, straight to the point and devoid of stories. Not the document being brought before you that is over 80 pages.
- Statutes are a living document meant for posterity and will be gazetted, hence, should be based on well interrogated facts and not personal interests. Due diligence should be followed and proper public participation should be done.
- Statutes being laws demand public participation involving all stakeholders.
The following reasons present good grounds to reject the prayer, and at best defer it to a later date, preferably when most of the top officers are substantive;
- The write-up is very poorly done and appear done in a rush… so what’s the rush about?
Generally, the large volume of the draft document (even larger than our current Kenya constitution, 2010) is due to a roughly copy pasted work that appeared not to have received the attention of a well thought grammatical process. For instance, refer to statute XX on Dean of Students (2) it highlights on the University Librarian instead of the Dean of Students, meaning this is clearly a product of a copy and paste work that is yet to be subjected to scrutiny by an appointed committee.The team preparing this draft document is hiding behind statutes to clear a pathway for themselves to remain in power without the statutory requisite minimum qualification stipulated for those offices. For instance, our attention is drawn on a deliberate effort to remove minimum qualification requirement for key offices, like the Registrars and the Dean of Students, as was with the current 2014 Statutes, in an effort to provide an exit path for the current Registrar Administration, Ms Rachel Atamba and the retiring DoS, Rev Lydiah Omwoha (now pushing for a contract) who are yet to acquire their PhDs to remain in office against the statutory provision.Statute XX on Dean of Students, in the draft document, doesn’t capture time limit to serve in office. For example why not say, for argument sake, “3 or 5years subject to renewal based on performance”. Are we setting a bad precedence of keeping someone in a public office indefinitely, regardless of age and performance?
- This draft document strips the VC of powers to run or manage the day-to-day business of the University… will Council be micromanaging the university?
Unlike the current 2014 Statutes where the VC is given powers to manage the day-to-day business of the university on behalf of Council, in this draft document the operational powers of the VC have been transferred to Council a complete turnaround from Mwongozo guidelines that provides a spirit of good governance.Statute XXII on Director of Campuses; who is the appointing authority? Why would we elevate Webuye Campus on a leased land and not Bungoma campus where we own a title deed?What’s the rationale for a director and deputy director of campuses, yet we have a PSSP directorate and campus coordinators and respective CoDs all managing the affairs of the campuses… have these failed? if yes, what’s the deficiency and the risk of letting the status quo remain, against bloating the wage bill on having two extra offices added to campus management?
- The draft statutes will bring down the University financially… have we done a CBA on this?
As noted in the previous point… we have noted that the many extra positions and offices being created; like the offices of directors and deputy directors of campuses etc., senior and emerita professors and so on, will have huge financial burden on the university. With the stiffening economic atmosphere in the country, a document as this should be aiming at strategies to downsize on recurrent expenditures than over-burdening it, as we see in this draft document.Retirement age should be in line with government policies. For instance, what is the rational to move retirement age of academic staff to up to 78 years, from the previous 70 years and non-teaching staff from 60 years to 65 years, as obtained in the current 2014 Statutes? Did the authors think of the financial implications of this proposition and rationalized on strategies to meeting these costs? A proper analysis need to be done to tease out the financial implications.Our question to senators is… Would it be more cheaper to keep a professor in the university services for up to 78 years, when his/her salary can employ up to 3 younger scholars with PhDs in their 20s and 30s who can be under the professors mentorship while she/he is on contract after retirement at age 70 years? What really is the motivation of increasing the retirement ages?
- The positions of Emeritus professor… who’s paying?
While we believe this is a laudable introduction to the draft document, we also see a self-serving interests here and one borne without consideration of its financial implication or in fact, who bears the financial consequences? To this we recommend this proposal to be rested for now, and a committee set up to interrogate the proposal further, do financial analysis around it, analyze its viability for the university at this point in time and benchmark against best-practices in the appointment of professor emerita elsewhere.More so, this proposal has been previously presented before senate, but was set aside for further interrogation by a senate ad hoc committee. Up to now, our sources inform us that senate is yet to receive the committee’s report and recommendation, and yet, it has jumped that stage and it is being proposed for gazettement in a statute. We think the rush is not in good faith to the university.Furthermore, elsewhere, we are aware that best-practices for cost of appointment of emerita professors after retirement is borne on the retiring professor, who is paid from revenue of his/her grant(s)/project(s) and the university gains financial benefits, research mentorship benefits, good name/reputation and resources from his/her retirement as he/she continue using the university resources and facilities – especially library and health facilities. What is proposed here is the direct opposite.
- Appointment of staff should be through the VC… When did Council begin having powers to appoint and terminate staff in MMUST? Where else has this been done? Can MMUST at least try to lead in the front with best-practices?
Mwongozo stipulated good governance and in the spirit of good faith and delegation is that Council should be involved ONLY in the appointment of the VC and DVCs; while the VC remains the appointing officer to other offices on behalf of Council. This draft document provides the direct opposite.
- The current 2014 Statutes is 5 years this year and apparently, may be due for review. However, an analysis of the current statutes need, first, to be done by a committee. This committee will be mandated to highlight the weakness(s) of the Statutes and make recommendations on justified grounds for sections that fall short of the current need of the university weighed against their financial implications. This require a well thought-out feasibility study.
- Our statutes should be guided by Mwongozo to be in line with government policies and in the spirit of good governance. Hence, the powers of council in the day-to-day operation and management of the university should be limited to the VC and DVCs. All other appointments and terminations should be made by the VC on behalf Council.
- We also question why the draft statutes have not been sent to stakeholders like the general staff and students as the key stakeholders, to fulfil the requirements of public participation guaranteed in the constitution. We demand this be included in a due process expected of a Statute review, before coming to Senate.
- Last but certainly not the least, our statutes should rationalize roles, eliminate wastage, curb inefficiencies and avoid duplication of functional operations, and more importantly, eliminate financial burden on the university.
WE THANK SENATE AND TRUST ONCE AGAIN HER WISDOM WILL PREVAIL IN THIS MATTER THAT WE BELIEVE IS ILL-FATED FOR MMUST!