Embattled Kenyatta University (KU) Vice-Chancellor Prof. Paul Wainaina now says the push to remove him from office was triggered by his reluctance to cede the title deed of Kenyatta University land to the Ministry of Health.
Addressing staff at the university on Tuesday, Prof. Wainaina explained that he first got wind of the State’s plan to allocate a piece of land owned by the University to the Ministry of Health (MoH) via a letter that was addressed to him by the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua on July 5, 2022.
The letter, Wainaina said, had referenced an earlier communiqué issued by the State following a cabinet meeting held on May 11, 2022 which ordered the University to surrender the title deed of the 338-acre land in question to MoH for partitioning.
Thirty acres of land were set aside by the Cabinet for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to establish a Ksh.600 million hub on the grounds adjacent to the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRH) while 10 acres were to be allocated to the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Cabinet likewise allotted 108 acres to KUTRH while 190 acres were reserved to settle squatters from Kamae settlement scheme.
“I consulted the chairman of the Council and he immediately called a meeting the next day to discuss this letter so at 2pm council members met to discuss it and as we were doing so, I received another letter,” he said.
The second letter directed the VC to avail himself for a meeting with State officials to deliberate on the earlier Cabinet decree, to which he agreed to attend. The meeting, Wainaina says, was to be held on July 6, 2022 at 11:30 am.
“We were discussing my letter then I was forced to prepare for a meeting the next day so I attended the meeting and the issue of ceding KU land was discussed and I told the meeting, the issue is not a vice chancellor issue but a council matter and therefore whatever I say will not have weight because I am not in charge in regards to handling KU property,” he said.
“KU Property belongs to the council and that is known. So, after that I was told that we would have another meeting where the council would be invited. The council was to be invited by Mr. Kinyua for a meeting and the suggested date for the meeting was supposed to be today (July 12,2022).”
A notice letter was sent to the VC and the Council’s officials to notify them of the planned meeting.
The letter cited KU holding large tracks of unutilized land meant to create a synergic relationship to the benefit of the University and Kenyans as a whole as the reason that informed the Cabinet’s May decision.
“Accordingly, the council of Kenyatta University is required to avail the parcel of land for purposes of planning and excision in line with section 69 of the Physical Planning and Land Use act as follows and in line with the procedure outlined here under,” the letter read in part.
“Now section 18/2 of the Charter of Kenyatta University requires the council to administer the property and funds of the University in a manner and for the purposes that shall promote the interest of the University but the council shall not charge or dispose of immovable property of the University except in accordance with the procedures laid down by the government of Kenya.”
The letter likewise ordered the council to submit letter of authority from KU, as the title holder of the land, to enable Ministry of Land officials to enter the land and carry out the physical planning exercise and to provide a written agreement for sub-dividing the subject land into the aforementioned sub-plots.
The council was also asked to surrender the existing title to the Ministry of Land and Physical Planning for re-planning upon which the National Land Commission would prepare the surrendered title based on the sub-division as carried out by the Ministry of Lands.
“The council should also submit a revise master plan to factor in the excision of land as outlined and to designate a liaison officer for purposes of engagement with the Ministry of Land NLC and MoH,” said the letter.
“Given the urgency of securing diplomatic and financial support for this intervention the council is to meet and make the requisite resolution not later than Monday 11 July 2022.”
The State likewise organised a meeting to be held on July 12, 2022, at Harambee House to allow KU’s council to give an update on its progress in terms of conforming to the said directions.
“The meeting was supposed to be held today but I was called from Kinyua’s office and I was told it is postponed indefinitely,” said Wainaina.
“The Council resisted ceding KU land. We were able to go to Kinyua’s office and the Council said we do not have the capacity to cede land then we were called to the Ministry of Education by our CS and we were told we had to cede land to the Hospital because the Cabinet had met and a decision had been made.”
Wainaina and the Council were directed by the Ministry of Health to write a letter to air their grievances to which they obliged and reiterated their stance on the subject matter.
The Council did not receive any response from the Ministry of Education but another letter was sent specifically to Wainaina by the Head of Public Service urging him to hand over the title deed.
“The council wrote back, on my behalf, to the head of the public service and told him the VC does not have the capacity to surrender the title nor does the council have the mandate. That letter was taken to State House at 6:50pm. Remember I was told to take the title by 5 o’clock but we were not able to do that,” he said.
“I understand that a new council is being formed so I thought I needed to tell you that whatever is going to happen is because I have refused to cede land from KU. This is probably the last time I will address you as VC,” Wainaina told KU staff.
News of Wainaina’s discharge did rounds on various news platforms on Tuesday afternoon just two days after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that his administration would ‘swiftly deal’ with a number of officials at the university who were allegedly refusing to hand over the contentious parcel of land to the government.