Nothing seems right at Mzuzu University. Barely a week after its students took to the streets asking its Chancellor President Mrs. Joyce Banda to immediately intervene and salvage the institution from a host of problems – now it’s an intra-battle for the top most job, the Vice Chancellors.
The Mzuzu High Court has stopped Mzuni Council Chairperson Professor Brown Chimphamba from head hunting for a Vice Chancellor after he deliberately disregarded interview results conducted on 28th March, 2012 where a clear winner emerged.
Sources told Nyasa Timesthat Chimphamba chose to disregard legal opinion on his solitary move because he was unwilling to present the name of the successful candidate Associate Professor Golden Msilimba to the Chancellor President Banda because of a perceived conflict of interest.
Associate Msilimba had the highest average score at 4.1, trailed by Professor Joseph Uta with 3.8 and lastly Professor Peter Mumba with 2.9, according to minutes of the search Committee of Council held at Jenjewe room at Mzuzu Hotel, a copy Nyasa Times obtained.
On Msilimba, the Committee which consisted of Chimphamba as Chairperson, Dr. Bernard Zingano, Maxon Chitawo, George Chitawo, Masawani Jere, Macphail Magwira, Luke Mwale, Mary Mwale and Michael Nkosi, noted that he had a superior performance and was very suitable for appointment.
“The committee agreed to recommend to the Council the appointment of Msilimba having emerged as the best candidate, subject to approval by the Chancellor,” reads the minutes of the meeting.
But the Mzuni Council now argues that Msilimba as a member of the Council was not eligible for the post as it presented a conflict of interest.
“That I recused myself from the business of the Council to do with the process of appointing a Vice Chancellor and when Council sought a legal opinion on my status, it was legally advised that my recusal extinguished any conflict of interest and that there was no way they could bar me from ascending to the post after they duly scrutinized my application, shortlisted me, assessed me only to raise these issues after am victorious,” Msilimba said his sworn affidavit to court.
Chimphamba’s sudden turn is contained in a memo dated 7th June, 2012, a copy Nyasa Times managed to obtain.
“At the last extra-ordinary meeting of the Mzuni Council held on 11th May 2012, 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.
However, Msilimba’s lawyer George Kadzipatike of Jivason and Company said in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times that Chimphamba’s move is not only discriminatory but a direct infringement of section 16 (2) of the Mzuni Act.
“The Vice Chancellor shall be appointed by the Council after considering the recommendations in writing on the suitability of various candidates submitted to the Council by a committee of nine members appointed for that purpose,” reads the Act.
Kadzipatike said Mzuni was ‘raping’ its own act. “How else can they explain this turn of events after the due process was followed to the letter”
Chimphamba said government had given a go ahead for the head hunt saying that is why he requested for the deferment of re-advertising the Vice Chancellor’s post.
“Instead we should identify a senior Academic or Administrator from within Malawi who should be seconded to Mzuni as Vice Chancellor with a clear mandate to instil discipline on the campus and also assist in the recruitment of a new deputy Vice Chancellor, a new University Registrar and a new Director of Finance when vacancies become available in these areas,” he said.
But Mzuzu High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise, under civil cause number 10 of 2012, the State and Council of Mzuzu University versus Associate Professor Golden Msilimba, stopped government from sending a person who had never undergone the statutory process for appointment of Vice Chancellor of Mzuzu university to assume this post.
He also ordered that the process of appointment of a Vice Chancellor be stalled.
“An order by way of injunction is hereby granted restraining the Respondents, its agents, servants or whosoever from appointing or otherwise recruiting a new Vice Chancellor … pending a judicial review of the said decisions or until a further order of this court,” Madise said.
The Judge also sounded a stern warning saying any person who disobeys the order shall be guilty of contempt of court and may be fined or imprisoned or may have their assets seized.
“It is also ordered that move for judicial review be and is hereby granted against the decision of the Mzuni Council or its chairperson suspending the legal process of appointing the Vice Chancellor after the applicant had emerged successful,” Judge Madise ordered.
In the memo to all members of the Mzuzu University Council copied to Secretary for Education, Science and Technology John Bisika, Comptroller of Statutory Corporation Charles Chindevu, Principal Secretary Malawi university development Programme Dr. Mcphail Magwira, Director of Higher Education Dixie Maluwa and a representative to the Treasury Peterson Ponderani – Chimphamba said he had informed government that Mzuni is desperately in need of a Vice Chancellor having had none since November 2010.
“The current position of having an Acting Vice Chancellor, Acting Vice Deputy Chancellor and Acting University Registrar is not sustainable and that there have been complaints in writing that management is incompetent,” Chimphamba wrote.
The Court also ordered Msilimba to file interpartes summons for the injunctory relief and originating motions for judicial review within seven days and that hearing shall be within 14 days.
Msilimba was also ordered to deposit MK100,000 with the court, which he did.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :