Malawi education watchdog calls for dissolution of Mzuzu University Council

The Civil Society Coalition for Basic Education (CSCBE) has asked President Joyce Banda to immediately reconstitute the Mzuzu University Council saying the path of policy direction that the Council is taking, is by all measure vindicative of its failure to practice good governance.

“Why should the Council be so mean as to allow the university to run without the Vice Chancellor for three years? Mzuni Council, amidst all the developments, can only be said to have lost direction which unfortunately compromises the provision of quality education at the institution,” CSCBE Executive director Benedict Kondowe said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Thursday.

The Council headed by Professor Brown Chimphamba is reported to have misled President Banda that the statutory process the Council conducted to identify the Vice Chancellor was faulty because no candidate was successful.

But interview results conducted on 28th March, 2012, indicates that a clear winner emerged in the name of Associate Professor Golden Msilimba and there is objective maetiral evidence that the Council unanimously agreed to endorse Msilimba to the President as the new Vice Chancellor.

Chimphamba: In VC appointment puzzle
Chimphamba: In VC appointment puzzle

Kondowe noted that the conduct of the Council erodes the credibility of the highest decision making body for Mzuzu University (Mzuni) for which it will be difficult to inspire the institution.“Perhaps, this also explains why Mzuni is locked into myriad problems some of which are merely due to bad governance,” he said.

Kondowe was reacting to the saga that has rocked Mzuni regarding the appointment of the Vice Chancellor.

“Associate Professor Msilimba, should continue to demand justice of the recruitment process. The conduct of the Council leaves a lot to be desired: it is neither inspiring nor worth their time,” he said.

Last year the Mzuzu High Court stopped Chimphamba from head hunting for a Vice Chancellor after he also deliberately disregarded interview results conducted on 28th March, 2012.

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.

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.

Now the Council has asked the President – who is Mzuni Chancellor – to approve a re-advertisement of the post of Vice Chancellor, when the Mzuzu University Act stipulates that the Chancellor shall only either reject or approve the nominee of the Vice Chancellor post upon recommendation from the Chairman of the Council.

However, Kondowe has asked the Malaiw leader to ensure that the matter at hand is investigated thoroughly and if need be,she should nullify the request from the Council and uphold the outcome of the interview results.

“It is evident from the actions of Mzuni Council especially the Chairperson, Prof Brown Chimphamba that the issue at hand is not about the competence of the candidates. I suspect that the Council might have its own favored candidate whom perhaps the eminent panel for the interviews did not even invite or that the person performed badly.

“The argument about the interviews using wrong methodology lacks substance to mention the least as the Council should have known which methodology was appropriate for the interviews way before interviews were conducted.” Kondowe said.

He added that, “If anything, the Council should have known way beforehand that all the shortlisted candidates were inexperienced, the result for which could have been cancellation of the remaining processes and re-advertisement of the post. The mere fact the Council allowed the eminent panel to proceed with interviews meant that it was in agreement with the nature of candidates selected for interviews”

The CSCBE Boss also noted that the Council’s assertions were childish saying they give the impression as if the eminent panel drew its own terms of reference for the recruitment exercise yet it is the Council that appoints a panel.

“Requesting the President, as the Chancellor of the University, to execute a function outside her legal mandate as per the Mzuni Act is not only irresponsible but also a deliberate ploy by the Council to put the President in conflict with the Law,” he observed.

But Msilimba is also unrelenting; he is again seeking relief from the Court in the form of a judicial review to force Mzuni to pick the statutory process of the selection of VC from where it was left to its finality.

In a notice of application for judicial review filed at the Mzuzu High Court, Msilimba argues that the decision of Mzuzu in delegating the powers to decide on re-advertisement of the post of VC to the President is a clear abdication of duty of Mzuni under the Mzuzu University Act.

Msilimba wants to the Court to declare that Mzuni decisions be declared unlawful, unconstitutional, unreasonable and procedurally improper.

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