Mzuni hoodwinks Malawi Pres Banda on VC appointment

The Mzuzu University Council has deliberately deceived its Chancellor,  President Joyce Banda by asking her 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.

“The VC shall be appointed by the Council after considering recommendations… provided that the appointment… shall be subject to the approval of the Chancellor,” reads section 16 (2) (a)(b)(c) of the Mzuni act.

The President granted the approval and Mzuni re-advertised the post in ‘The Nation’ newspaper of 26th November 2012.

Apart from that, the Council headed by Professor Brown Chimphamba also deliberately lied to President Banda that the statutory process the Council conducted to identify the Vice Chancellor was faulty because no candidate was successful.

Chimphamba: Reported
Chimphamba: Makes U-turn

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

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.

Candidates were graded on a scare of 1-5 with 5 being highest score and 1 being lowest.

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 Msilimba 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 minute number 23:12.

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

Chimphamba’s sudden turn is contained in a memo dated 7th June, 2012, a copy Nyasa Times also obtained.

“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 through Mzuzu based prominent Lawyer George Kadzipatike of Jivason and Company  took Chimphamba head o arguing that his move is not only discriminatory but a direct infringement of section 16 (2) of the Mzuni Act.

Msilimba then asked the court for a judicial review but Mzuni under duress successfully negotiated with Msilimba to sought the issue out of Court promising him that his name will be forwarded to Mrs. Banda for approval.

But Chimphamba has done it again.

In consultation with a few Council members including the outspoken CEO of Mzuzu Coffee farmers Cooperative Harrison Kalua, he has deliberately chose not to present Msilimba’s name to President Banda because they felt Msilimba lacked enough experience, Nyasa Times investigations reveal.

Further our investigations also revealed that Msilimba, had on numerous occasion clashed during Council meetings with Kalua on the Composition of the Council.

Kalua is advocating for the removal of three senators from the Council, whom he calls ‘insiders’.

In a memorandum to Mrs. Banda, ref MU/1/P1.01 dated 12th October, 2012 and a copy Nyasa Times obtained, Chimphamba raised several faults regarding the methodology used to assess the potential candidates.

Ironically, the same methodology was used to recruit former VCs Professor Peter Mwanza and Professor Landson Mhango.

“Your, Excellency, when the full Council considered the above results, it observed that the methodology… missed out the design of competence structured interview instrument that relates the candidate with job description.

“The methodology also missed out the character and personality assessment. Both elements are important for assessing candidates for a high level position of Vice Chancellor who is the CEO of the university,” said.

Chimphamba also outlined to the President the weaknesses of the candidates, which he claimed makes none of them unsuitable candidates to manage the University in the face of huge challenges the institution is currently facing.

But sources at Mzuni faulted the Council for short listing and interviewing the candidates in the first place if they did have high level management experience.

On Associate professor Msilimba,  Chimphamba said he did not have comprehensive high level management experience although he has reasonable teaching and research experience.

However, Nyasa Times investigations established that Msilimba has been a Senate member for six years, Council member for three years, member of the management team for four years, Dean of Faculty for four years, deputy dean for three years, Director Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation, Coordinator of Water Resources Management and Department Programmes, Chair High Committee – Ministry of Water development among others.

On Professor Uta, Chimphamba again said he did not have comprehensive research, academic experience in teaching although he had reasonable management experience.

Finally on Professor Mumba, Chimphamba said he did not have any reasonable management experience although he had comprehensive academic and research experience.

“I look forward to your Excellency’s approval… that the post of the Vice Chancellor should be re-advertised,” said Chimphamba in his report to President Banda.

But Msilimba is also unrelenting; he is 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 ofMzuni 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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