KU’s Vice-Chancellor Explains Title Deed Row, Clash With State House
Prof. Paul Wainaina, the embattled Vice-Chancellor of Kenyatta University (KU), has now stated that the push to remove him from office was triggered by his refusal to hand over the title deed to Kenyatta University land to the Ministry of Health.
Prof. Wainaina told staff at the university on Tuesday that he first learned of the State’s plan to give a piece of land owned by the university to the Ministry of Health (MoH) through a letter addressed to him by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua on July 5, 2022.
The letter, according to Wainaina, referred to an earlier communiqué issued by the State following a cabinet meeting on May 11, 2022, which ordered the University to surrender the title deed to the MoH for partitioning.
The Cabinet set aside thirty acres of land for the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish a Ksh.600 million hub on the grounds adjacent to the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRH), while the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention was given ten acres.
The Cabinet also gave KUTRH 108 acres, while 190 acres were set aside to settle squatters from the 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 2 pm council members met to discuss it and as we were doing so, I received another letter,” he said.
The second letter asked the VC to make himself available for a meeting with State officials to discuss the previous Cabinet decree, which he agreed to attend. According to Wainaina, the meeting was scheduled for July 6, 2022, at 11:30 a.m.
“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, that 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.
The council owns the KU property, which is well known according to Prof. Wainaina.
The VC claims he was informed that they would hold another meeting to which the council would be invited.
Mr. Kinyua was to invite the council to a meeting, and the suggested date for the meeting was Teusday (July 12, 2022).
A letter was sent to the VC and Council officials informing them of the upcoming meeting.
The letter cited KU holding large tracts of unutilized land as the reason for the Cabinet’s May decision, citing a synergistic relationship to the benefit of the University and Kenyans as a whole.
“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.
Section 18/2 of the Kenyatta University Charter requires the council to administer the University’s property and funds in a manner and for the purposes that promote the interests of the University
“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 also directed the council to submit a letter of authority from KU, as the land’s title holder, to allow Ministry of Land officials to enter the land and carry out the physical planning exercise, as well as a written agreement for subdividing 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, with the National Land Commission preparing the surrendered title based on the Ministry of Lands’ sub-division.
The letter also stated that the council should also submit a revised master plan to account for the land excision as outlined and designate a liaison officer for purposes of engagement with the Ministry of Land NLC and MoH.
“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 had also scheduled a meeting for July 12, 2022, at Harambee House to allow KU’s council to provide an update on its progress in adhering 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 refused to cede 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.”
The Ministry of Health directed Wainaina and the Council to write a letter to air their grievances, which they did and reiterated their position on the subject.
The Council received no response from the Ministry of Education, but the Head of Public Service sent another letter to Wainaina, 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 6:50 pm. Remember I was told to take the title by 5 o’clock but we were not able to do that,” he said.
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“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.
On Tuesday afternoon, news of Wainaina’s release circulated on various news platforms, just two days after President Uhuru Kenyatta declared that his administration would swiftly deal’ with a number of university officials who were allegedly refusing to hand over the contentious parcel of land to the government.