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Mombasa varsity to pay ex-VC Josphat Mwatela Sh28m for unfair dismissal

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The Technical University of Mombasa has finally agreed to compensate its former Vice-Chancellor Josphat Mwatelah Sh28 million after controversially terming his contract on the directive of Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i last year.

Earlier this year, Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Onesmas Makau said that under the Universities Act the minister lacked the authority to sack Prof Mwatelah.

The university council was ordered to pay Prof Mwatelah all benefits accruing from his contract of employment, costs of the suit, six month’s gross salary in lieu of notice and 12 month’s gross salary as compensation for unfair termination.

However, the university hesitated to settle the compensated for months with Dr Matiang’i being accused in court of directing its senior management not to process the compensation.

Prof Mwatelah through lawyer Hebert Ashiruma accused Dr Matiang’i, who is listed as the second respondent in the case, of also blocking his client from assuming duty at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

“The second respondent has been issuing some directive from Jogoo House and that is why the university has not tabulated my client’s dues as ordered by this court,” said Mr Ashiruma.

However, Prof Mwatelah on Friday confirmed that he has entered into a consent with his former employer that Sh28 million paid to him in four quarters, in January, March, June and September 0f 2018.

“I didn’t want to press them hard. It is still my university and I want to usher in 2018 with a peaceful mind,” said Prof Mwatelah.

Subsequently, the university has also started the process to recruit new VC signalling an end to the protracted legal dispute between the university Senate and the former VC who thwarted all efforts to replace him until the end of his case.

Prof Laila Abubakar had served in an acting capacity and he is set to battle it with other qualified professors for the top university seat.

Prof Laila as likely to get an upper hand based on her sterling performances for the period she had served and the gender issue in male-dominated VC position across public universities in the country.

In a newspaper advertisement, the university council invited qualified Kenyans to apply for the position amid clamour by coastal leaders that the position be taken by a qualified native.

The new VC is expected to serve for a five-year term with the possibility of a further and final another five-term depending on his performance and approval by the Senate.