Court reinstates sacked Kenyatta University VC Prof Paul Wainaina

Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Kenyatta University Vice-chancellor Paul Wainaina.

Photo credit: File and Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

A court has ordered Kenyatta University to reinstate an embattled vice-chancellor it suspended for failing to surrender land to the State for a government project.

In two letters dated July 4 and July 7, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua directed Prof Paul Wainaina to surrender the title for Kenyatta University LR No. 1102/26 to allow the Ministry of Lands and Planning to take part of the land as directed by the Cabinet.

But Prof Wainaina refused and was subsequently suspended and the university’s council was dissolved.

To prevent his dismissal, Prof Wainaina, through his lawyer Manwa Hosea, asked the Employment and Labour Relations Court to bar the enforcement of Mr Kinyua’s orders, arguing that sacking a vice-chancellor is a preserve of the university council.

“The Head of Public Service continues to act in a manner that completely flouts the provisions of law on the rights of the applicant and continues to breach his rights to fair labour practices,” Mr Hosea told the court. 

“An injustice has been [perpetrated] upon the applicant herein and this honourable court should remedy the said injustice by the Head of Public Service by urgently staying the impugned suspension.”

Prof Wainaina also wanted the court to issue a conservatory order suspending the decision contained in a letter dated July 12 from Prof Crispus Kiamba that suspended him and appointed Prof Waceke Wanjohi as acting vice-chancellor.

He also asked the court to bar KU from advertising the position and block the enforcement of the new university council’s decision to suspend him over alleged gross misconduct and insubordination.

He also wanted the court to bar Prof Kiamba’s directive that rendered the vice-chancellor’s position vacant and revoked his salary.

Certifying the matter urgent, Justice Jacob Gakeri issued a temporary order barring the suspension of Prof Wainaina and directed that the matter be placed before any judge on July 28 for a hearing involving the two sides.

“Pending the hearing and determination of this application inter-parties, this honourable court is pleased to issue a temporary order suspending the implementation of the decision contained in the letter dated July 12 by Professor Crispus Kiamba in toto suspending, terminating and/or dismissing the petitioner from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, rendering his position vacant and/or revoking his salary,” he ruled.

Upon receiving the letters, Prof Wainaina, in his farewell address at the university’s amphitheatre, explained how the government planned to utilise the land.

“The letter indicated that 30 acres will be given to WHO for a project, 10 acres to the Centre for Disease Control, 180 acres to KUTRRH (KU hospital) and another 190 acres will be used to settle Kamaye squatters,” he explained.

The new developments came barely three days after President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed displeasure against “individuals” whom he accused of delaying the construction of a World Health Organisation (WHO) regional and sub-global emergency operations and logistics hub on the land.

Speaking at KU hospital on Saturday, July 9, President Kenyatta cited a tussle regarding the ownership of the land on which the hub will be set up.

He said that the last weeks of his 10-year tenure would be dedicated to solving the dispute “swiftly and effectively”.

KU then filed a complaint, alleging that a WHO centre is being developed on its property without its authorisation.

Prof Wainaina claimed that the parcel of land where the WHO hub was to sit was intended for a business school, a student recreation centre and hostels.