Egerton University is in the red. The deep financial crisis arises from fraud and mismanagement, a new report shows.
The country’s premier agricultural institution has been struggling to meet its obligations, which the management previously blamed on insufficient resources. However, the new audit exposes an organisation that routinely flouts regulations.
Ms Theodora Gichana, the Inspector-General (Corporations), paints a picture of a chaotic institution that loses millions of shillings due to fraud or incompetence. She wants Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to act swiftly to arrest the situation.
The auditor says the university may have lost up to Sh7.2 million for allowing an irregular change of mode of study of some students — from self-sponsored to regular programme.
However, Prof Rose Awuor Mwonya, the vice-chancellor, has dismissed the findings.
“This is ridiculous. I didn’t sanction the change of study from self-sponsored programme to regular,” the VC said and added that, the report “is full of malice, lies and misrepresentations”.
“I’m reading succession politics in all the allegations levelled against me. University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) Egerton chapter and some council members want to tarnish my name for reasons better known to themselves. They seem to be unhappy with my style of management, which is anchored on zero-tolerance on corruption.”
Prof Mwonya was appointed to the position in 2016.
Prof Alexander Kahi, the Deputy VC (Academic Affairs), distanced himself from the saga.
“I’m clean. This is pure malice in succession. I don’t appear anywhere in the report. I was not the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Affairs (AA) when the mess was happening. The DVC AA was Prof Mwonya. I should not suffer because of the sins of my predecessor who is now the VC.”
The report also wants Prof Magoha to take action against the VC for irregularly renewing the contract of M/S Neat Hygiene Services Limited and M/S Smarties Cleaning Services Limited without competitive bidding.
She also allegedly signed a flawed contract for putting up a multimillion-shilling Egerton gate at Njoro campus by M/S Cell Ark System Limited, which had submitted a forged performance bond.
“The tendering… was above board and the procurement gave the project a clean bill of health and confirmed the documents were authentic,” Prof Mwonya said.
The VC is also on the spot for starting buying of ICT equipment without adequate budgetary provision to meet the obligations of the resultant contract, contrary to the law.
“This is laughable because I’m the one who opposed the purchase of the equipment without budgetary allocation,” Prof Mwonya defended herself.
Prof Mwonya further denied claims of approving building an ultra-modern library without architectural and structural designs, and that the National Environment Management Authority issued the licence two years after it took off.
“All approvals are there…You can’t start such a massive project without crucial approval documents,” the VC retorted.
As of June 30, 2019, Egerton had accumulated Sh1.6 billion in outstanding statutory deductions.
This prompted the Directorate of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti to write to Prof Mwonya on September 10, directing her to provide his office with documents to help investigations into theft of public funds.
Prof Mwonya’s term ends in January 2021.