Mount Kenya University To Compensate Prof. Moni Wekesa For Breach Of Contract  

By The Weekly Vision Team

The long-standing case in which Prof. Moni Wekesa sued Mount Kenya University for the termination of his contract reached its conclusion when Judge James Rika delivered the final ruling on March 8, 2024, at the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi.

The case has been in court for eight years.  In the ruling, Judge Rika noted, “It is declared that termination of the petitioner’s contract by the respondent was unfair and unlawful. It is declared that the respondent violated the petitioner’s constitutional rights to fair labour practices, the right to fair administrative action, the right to human dignity, and the right not to be discriminated against”

Prof. Moni Wekesa. Courtesy

According to court papers, Prof. Dr Moni Wekesa filed his petition on November 7, 2016, in which he says that he was employed by MKU as an Associate Professor and Acting Dean at the institution’s School of Law on a 1-year contract dated June 10, 2010. The contract was renewed for 3 years, effective June 15, 2011, through a letter dated May 6, 2011. The university appointed Prof. Wekesa as a member of the university’s International Conference Organizing Committee on June 30, 2012. On May 24, 2012, he was appointed as the board chairman at a PhD thesis oral defence meeting. He was appointed as a Master [Med. EPMA] Project Supervisor on July 27, 2012. On July 12, 2013, he was appointed as an external examiner of the thesis or project. On March 3, 2014, he was appointed as a PhD Research Proposal Reviewer and, in an undated letter, was later appointed to serve as the 3rd Internal Examiner [Supervisor].

His contract was renewed for 5 years, effective July 15, 2014, through a letter dated August 5, 2014. On December 17, 2014, he was appointed substantive Dean of, the School of Law, with effect from January 1, 2015. Through a letter dated December 18, 2014, he was promoted to Professor, Department of Public Law, with effect from January 1, 2015.

He served diligently in his various roles until January 25, 2016, when the university abruptly terminated his contract unfairly and unlawfully. He was advised that he had been retrenched.

In an affidavit, he reveals that he was denied his right to dignity. He was humiliated and degraded. He was exposed to pecuniary embarrassment. It was difficult to explain to colleagues and students why the petitioner, a professor of international repute, was dropped by the respondent from teaching law without a valid reason. He was made to feel useless and unwanted.

The university, through the replying affidavit of Prof. Evans Kerosi, Respondent’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Planning, and Institutional Advancement, sworn on June 16, 2017, and a further affidavit of Respondent’s Deputy Director of Human Resource Department, Lucy W. Maina, sworn on July 29, 2020, confirmed that Prof. Wekesa was employed by the university as petitioned.

Deputy Director of Human Resources, Lucy Maina, adds through her further affidavit that the Council of Legal Education conducted an audit on May 5, 2015, at the Respondent. The audit report from the Council indicated that the petitioner was a professor of sports medicine and not an associate professor or professor of law. Prof. Wekesa, in a quick rejoinder, told the court that he holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Education, Master of Education, PhD in Sports Medicine, Bachelor of Law, Master of Law, and PhD in Law.

Further, at the time of giving evidence, he was teaching law at Daystar University in Nairobi. He was employed at Daystar in November 2016. Before this, he worked at Kenyatta University [1982–1985], the University of Nairobi [1996–1997], the University of Namibia in 1998, the Catholic University of Nairobi in 2010, and at the Respondent from June 2010 to January 2016.

The judge finally awarded Prof. Wekesa a balance of severance at Kshs. 709,442; balance of notice at Kshs. 45,645; balance of January 2016 salary at Kshs. 40,083; the equivalent of 9 months’ salary in compensation for unfair termination at Kshs. 3,060,000; and coalesced damages for constitutional violations at Kshs. 3,000,000—a total of Kshs. 6,855,170.