University of Nairobi VC Stephen Kiama in deal with Uasu to avoid jail term

Prof Stephen Kiama

University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Prof Stephen Gitahi Kiama during the interview at his office in Nairobi on October 1, 2020.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Stephen Kiama and the institution’s lecturers’ union have struck a deal that will see him avoid a six-month civil jail term.

The VC and the union on Thursday agreed to withdraw all court cases against the university on restructuring and revert to the previous structure.

Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) Secretary General Constantine Wasonga said after holding candid discussions with the VC and other university top leaders, the union had resolved to withdraw the cases.

“The problem we had as Uasu was that there was no public participation during the restructuring of the university, but now the VC has assured us that the university is willing to involve the union in the process,” said Dr Wasonga.

Prof Kiama said the university was ready to engage with the union, adding that the restructuring was not meant to affect staff negatively.

“As a university, we are ready to engage the union. We have also agreed on how restructuring will be done in the university,” said Prof Kiama.

In the new agreement, the VC and the union agreed to return the created positions of associate VCs to those of deputy vice chancellors.

Efficient academic function

They also agreed to restore the positions of deans, who will be elected by the lecturers.

In July last year, the VC and chairperson of Council, Prof Julia Ojiambo, announced the abolishment of five offices of deputy vice chancellors and replaced them with two associate vice chancellors.

The University of Nairobi (UoN) also abolished all colleges and reorganised all functions around faculties, which moved from 35 to 11, to avoid duplication of functions.

All positions of principals and deputy principals and their roles were also reorganised under new positions of executive and associate deans.

The university then said the move was meant to align resources to the faculties where teaching and learning takes place.

The new structure was also meant to provide efficient academic function.

Consequently, Uasu, through lawyer Titus Koceyo, moved to court and sought to overturn the proposed governance reforms at the UoN.

Permanent injunction

The union also asked the court to issue a permanent injunction stopping the university, the council and the VC from implementing the reforms announced through a memo dated July 14, 2021.

Consequently, the court granted the prayers sought and ordered Prof Kiama to stop the changes he introduced, which Uasu claimed were done without involving stakeholders.

However, the university did not obey court orders which prompted Uasu to file a contempt of court case.

Prof Kiama was found guilty on December 10, and is scheduled to appear before Justice Maureen Onyango on January 27 for sentencing.

On Thursday Dr Wasonga said Uasu was no longer interested in the committing the VC to civil jail.

“We are supporting restructuring of the university as long as it not affecting our members, and today, we had healthy negotiations,” he said.

The meeting was attended by both Uasu national and the University of Nairobi chapter officials, as well as its top officials.


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