Court orders Prof. Mugenda to go on terminal leave

Olive Mugenda
Former K.U Vice Chancellor Prof. Olive Mugenda. PHOTO | FILE

The Employment and Labour relations court has directed Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor Prof. Olive Mugenda to proceed on terminal leave and take up all her pending leave days.

The court before Justice Hellen Wasilwa halted the ongoing recruitment exercise as stated in the press advertisement for vacancy of the VC inviting applications from eligible candidates to fill the position on the basis that the set terms and conditions are unfair and too restrictive to parties who might be interested in the position and that the advertisement has no room for public participation.

Activist Okiya Omtatah had moved to court arguing Mugenda has completed her mandatory term and should vacate office.

The activist stated that less than six months to the end of her term, no advertisement has been placed in the media announcing the vacancy.

He said the best practice in the public service is for those whose terms are about to expire to go on a six-month leave pending retirement.

However, an advert published on early December invited applications, ending speculation that Prof. Mugenda’s term could be extended.

In November, staff members expressed concern that Prof. Mugenda wanted to extend her term.

A group of students also called for extension of her term to enable her complete the many projects she had started at the university.

Mugenda has had an illustrious career at the university where she spearheaded a massive expansion of facilities and raised student enrollment to the current 70,000 — one of the highest in the country to date.

She is credited with turning the university from a centre for education training to a multi-disciplinary institution.

The successful candidate will hold the position for a duration of five years with the possibility of one term renewal for a further five years, subject to a positive appraisal by the university council.

Prof. Mugenda was appointed Vice Chancellor in April 2006 and was reappointed in March 2011.

However, her re-appointment was challenged in court in 2012 by Dr. Wilfrida Itolongo, Dr. Muma Solomon, Dr. Elena Korir, Ms Martha MIayandazi and Mr Fred Obare, who claimed it was unmerited.

But the case was dismissed by Justice George Odunga who ruled that her re-appointment was legal.

Before ascending to the top position, Prof. Mugenda was a Deputy Vice Chancellor and previously held various leadership positions at the university.

She has earned several awards for her leadership.

In 2013, she won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Eastern Africa chapter of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur.

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Maureen Murimi
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