Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i lacked authority to sack former Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) vice chancellor Prof Josephat Mwatelah, a court has ruled Friday.
Employment and Labour Relations Judge Onesmas Makau said the CS lacked authority under the Universities Act, the university’s charter, its statutes and terms and conditions of service to sack the varsity boss last year.
Prof Mwatelah was fired over mismanagement of funds after State auditors from the Treasury found that he had irregularly awarded a Sh4 million scholarship to a student to pursue studies abroad.
The student was found to have been ineligible for the award and was also the daughter of the varsity registrar - Tunje Kadere - who was also related to Prof Mwatelah.
At the time of the sacking by Mr Matiang’i, he had been suspended by the institution following accusations of nepotism and irregular procurements of goods and services for TUM.
Matiang’i "not employer"
Justice Makau further ruled that the termination of Prof Mwatelah’s contract via Dr Matiang’i’s letter was unlawful since it was not written by the employer.
Consequently, the university’s council was ordered to pay Prof Mwatelah six month’s gross salary in lieu of notice and 12 month’s gross salary as compensation for unfair termination.
The judge also directed the council to pay all benefits accruing from his contract of employment and costs of the suit.
He directed the accruals be calculated by the university in writing and tabulation filed in court within 30 days.
Justice Makau said Dr Matiang’i, by terminating the contract, illegally descended “from his throne” of rendering advice or policy guidelines to the council and waded into a private contractual relationship.
“It is of interest to note that the CS illegally terminated the claimant’s contract against legal advice by the Attorney-General,” said Mr Makau.
Prof Mwatelah filed the case seeking that his termination be declared null and void and that he be allowed to resume duty with full benefits.
In the alternative, he sought for a declaration that the termination was unfair and he should be fully compensated under terms of his contract.