Mary Walingo: Court rules she is entitled to Sh81 million since her suspension


Mary Walingo was suspended as Maasai Mara vice-chancellor in September 2019. ILLUSTRATION | JOSEPH BARASA | NMG

It has been tough four years for former Maasai Mara University vice chancellor Mary Walingo.

In her own words, she has been subjected to intimidation, harassment, discrimination and victimisation, among other ills.

Since September 2019 when she was suspended by the university council over allegations of fraud, the don told the court that she was yet to get her salary and allowances — not even after obtaining a court order, directing the council to pay her the dues.

Last week, however, the Employment and Labour Relations court ruled that she was entitled to Sh81 million, being her salary and allowances since her suspension.

Read: Tough run for varsity don over cash queries

The Public Service Commission (PSC) had last year directed the university to reinstate Prof Walingo as vice chancellor and professor of the School of Tourism and Natural Resource Management as well as settle her salary and allowances.

The decision, which was adopted by the court in January has never been complied with.

“It is my finding that the respondents are duly bound to implement the decision of PSC as adopted by this court and as computed by the applicants to the tune of KShs81,019,348 in the absence of any rejoinder,” Justice Hellen Wasilwa said.

Troubles for Prof Walingo started in September 2019 following an expose by a local TV station on the alleged fraud at the university.

She was sent on compulsory leave on September 2019, followed by suspension, pending the determination of the criminal case against her before a Nakuru court.

Prof Walingo, and four others,  were charged in August 2020 before a Nakuru Court with more than 10 counts, including conspiracy to commit corruption, wilfully failing to comply with the law relating to management of public funds, abuse of office, fraudulent accounting and stealing by person.

They allegedly committed the offences between January 24 and July 19, 2019, by misappropriating more than Sh177 million belonging to the institution.

The university later terminated her employment but she challenged the decision at the PSC, arguing that such a step should have been made by the Ministry of Education and not the council.

She also said the termination was illegal because the council failed to follow the substantive and procedural disciplinary proceedings.

The PSC agreed with her and ordered her reinstatement and the university to pay her salary, forthwith. She wrote to the institution on September 15, 2022, informing them of the said decision and seeking enforcement and compliance.

The university and the Ministry did not respond.

She then moved to court and successfully argued for the PSC decision to be adopted as a judgment of the court.

Still, the university did not act as directed, forcing her to file contempt proceedings against the council members.

The university defended itself, saying the council members were yet to be appointed and, hence could not compute her dues as directed.

However, Prof Walingo had been reinstated to the payroll and what was remaining was the computation of her dues, the university said.

Justice Wasilwa, however, noted that the council was appointed in May but there was no indication that the university was planning to comply with the court’s directive. 

In response to her application for payment after computing her dues, the university said they were computing Prof Walingo’s outstanding dues and also reinstating her to the university payroll.

Prof Walingo dismissed the submissions advanced by the university, stating that the council members were using their powers, "to level dogmatic excuses" not to pay the outstanding salaries.

Tribalism, Nepotism

The Narok-based university, which was granted a Charter in 2014 has been dogged by circus, including claims of tribalism and nepotism.

Its first vice chancellor was sent on compulsory leave following unrest by a section of Maasai politicians, students and members of non-teaching staff.

Prof Walingo, formerly the Principal of Murang’a University College (now a fully-fledged university) was appointed the Maasai Mara University vice-chancellor after a competitive recruitment in 2014.

Read: Recruitment of Maasai Mara DVC halted

All was well for her until the fraud allegations surfaced.

She pleaded with the court to intervene, saying she would continue being subjected to untold mistreatment and was at the risk of unfairly being terminated on unsubstantiated allegations.

Prof Walingo holds a Bachelor of Education in Home Economics degree from Kenyatta University, a Master of Science in Applied Nutrition from the University of Nairobi and a Doctor of Philosophy in Food and Nutrition from Acharya National Guard Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad in India.

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