Egerton University Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Isaac Kibwage and eight University Council members were on Thursday, December 8 sentenced to serve one month in jail or pay a fine of Ksh100,000 each over contempt of court.
The nine were sued for contempt having failed to implement orders by the Employment and Labour Relations Court issued on May 30, that had directed the university to pay lecturers 100 per cent of their salaries.
Justice David Nderitu, in his ruling, revealed that Kibwage and the council members deliberately opted to ignore the orders in a manner that was prejudicial to the lecturers.
An Undated image of Prof Kibwage appearing in court.
The Egerton University chapter of the University Academic Staff Union (UASU) had filed for contempt after the university imposed a 40 per cent pay cut in 2020 on allegations of an austerity measure at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic that left the institution financially strapped.
According to Nderitu, the council failed to produce evidence of audited accounts despite Kibwage claiming Covid was the main reason for the deductions.
The nine had indicated in submissions that the deducted salaries were occasioned by a reduction of revenue streams.
However, Justice Nderitu found that the decision by the council to withhold or defer the university dons’ salaries was not anchored in law.
“The law allows an employer to let go of some of the employees when he feels unable to sustain the workforce. However, deferral is not an option as it is unconstitutional and unlawful,” declared the judge.
Kibwage together with the Council Chairperson Hukka Wario, and five other council members were present in court when the ruling was being delivered.
However, two council members who failed to appear before the court were issued with a warrant of arrest/
Egerton University appointed Prof. Isaac Ongubo Kibwage as the new Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the institution in November 2020.
He replaced Rose Mwonya whose exit was marred with discord from students demanding for her resignation.
They argued that Mwonya should not resume office after years of alleged malpractice and mismanagement which had clouded her tenure.
Prof. Rose Mwonya who served as Egerton University Vice Chancellor for five years handing over office in January 2021 to Prof Isaac Kibwage