Chimphamba faults Mzuni Act on Vice Chancellor saga

Mzuzu University (Mzuni) Council chairperson Professor Brown Chimphamba has fauled the Mzuzu University Act for putting him in an uncomfortable position as both Chairperson for the search committee and the Council when it comes to the appointment of the Vice Chancellor, saying the Act needs redrafting so as not to bring conflict of interest.

Recently a senior government official disclosed to Nyasa Times that government is the process of identifying new Council members to replace the group headed by Chimphamba.

Prof Chimphamba told NyasaTimes on Wednesday that he was trying to justify the Council’s existence after fierce criticisms from NGOs and other stakeholders that the Council should be re-constituted anew because of its lack of policy direction and other malpractices that have embattled Mzuni.

Ironically, Prof Chimphamba failed to cite specific sections or subsections of the Act that gives him the dual responsibilities.

Chimphamba: Mzuni Council boss
Chimphamba: Mzuni Council boss

“This is where the Mzuni Act differs from other Acts,” he said.

Of late Malawian NGOs have been calling upon President Dr. Joyce Banda, who is Mzuni Chancellor by virtue of being Head of State to fire the Council, saying it had lost direction.

President of the Chewa Heritage Foundation (Chefa) Dr. Justin Malewezi also criticized the  Council for practicing nepotism in the hiring of staff at whatever level,  saying the ‘unfortunate’ habit leads to conflicts among citizens.

While the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) also asked President Banda to immediately reconstitute the Council , observing that  the path of policy direction that the Council is taking, is by all measure vindicative of its failure to practice good governance.

And the Youth and Society, a local NGO, asked government to consider that Council members serve for a fixed number of years and not any open term as is the case now arguing that long serving members tend to be detrimental to the institution.

Section 16 (2) of the Mzuni Act stipulates that “the Vice Chancellor shall be appointed by the Council after considering recommendations in writing on the suitability of various candidates submitted to the council by a committee of nine members appointed for that purpose…”

On March 28th 2012, Prof Chimphamba chaired such a committee comprising Dr. Bernard Zingano, Maxon Chitawo, George Chitawo, Masawani Jere, Macphail Magwira, Luke Mwale, Mary Mwale and Michael Nkosi that awarded Associate Professor Golden Msilimba a superior performance following interviews for the post of Vice Chancellor held at Mzuzu Hotel.

“The committee then agreed to recommend to the Council (which Chimphamba also chairs) the appointment of Msilimba having emerged as the best candidate, subject to approval by the Chancellor,” reads minute number 23:12.

On the other hand Chimphamba also chaired a full Council meeting that rejected the suitability of Msilimba.

“At the last extra-ordinary meeting of the Mzuni Council … I, as Chairperson explained that in consultation with some council members and management officials, I had suspended the appointment of the Vice Chancellor,” Chimphamba said.

Msilimba is seeking a judicial review of Mzuni decision.

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