By Gibson C Kamanga
Conundrum is still showing its ugly face at Mzuzu University as by-elections for the ‘vacant’ positions of Director of Entertainment, and Deputy Director of Entertainment which were slated for 17th of May 2019 have been hit by a legal battle, Entertainment Malawi can reveal.
The elections were to follow an impeachment for the-then Director of Entertainment, Innocent Kanyang’ama, and his Deputy, Doreen Dzoole better known as Sista Fayah, following accusation of financial misappropriation of the Students’ Union funds.
According to the General Assembly that took place on the 29th of April 2019, the students (read the General Assembly) had ‘unanimously voted to relieve the two of their duties as they had failed to convince the house how K240, 000 meant for hosting a joint UMP-MZUNI musical concert was managed.
But in a twist of events, Entertainment Malawi can reveal that the two ousted Entertainment Directors, through their lawyer, Chikondi Samuel Duke from the Legal Aid Bureau, have penned the Dean of Students, and copied to the Speaker of the Mzuzu University Students Union’s Representatives Council, The Returning Officer of November 2018 elections (which ushered the duo mandates to govern), and the Deputy Vice Chancellor to reinstate the two and also cancel the forthcoming by-elections.
According to the document, dated 15th May 2019, the two argue that they were unlawfully dismissed from their positions as the Students’ Representative council flouted rules of natural justice for the two to have a fair trial.
“…the basis for our clients’ impeachment was misappropriation of MUSU (Mzuzu University Students’ Union) funds but necessary steps were not followed afterwards,” reads part of the communique.
The document faults The Speaker of the MUSU Assembly for breaking some tenets from the (Union’s) constitution in the way the Vote of No Confidence for the said office bearers was carried out.
The complainants argue that the Speaker violated the constitution as a minimum number of representatives to form a quorum for such an issue to be held was not met.
“Reference is made to the Constitution of MUSU Article XI Section 2 (v) in which there is a disparity in that the members that voted do not constitute the ¾ of the whole membership of MUSU,” argues the letter.
- Article X (I) Section 2 v reads:
The vote of No Confidence shall be carried if at least three-quarters of the members of MUSU vote for it in the secret ballot.
In a separate interview, Doreen Dzoole (one of the complainants) claim that only about 4000 members were present in the chamber, a figure way lower than the required constitutional limit.
“There’s no way this could have been handled. Roughly 4000 members cannot constitute a quorum as per our constitution. The whole process was unconstitutional.” She said.
That aside, the document further argues that the Speaker misdirected the whole Representative council as necessary steps were not followed in handling the misappropriation of funds case.
“On misappropriation of MUSU funds, we refer you to Article X (I) of the constitution of Mzuzu University’s Students Union which talks of instituting an internal audit exercise whose findings, after being presented to the Patron will be worked upon by the same Patron. This never happened.” It argued.
- Article X (I) reads:
Where finances of MUSU are misappropriated the Internal Auditor will conduct an investigation and a report of findings shall be presented to the Patron who will decide the appropriate measures to be taken.
In addition, the communique also argues that Doreen, and Innocent were unfairly treated as their efforts to exhaust the issue before the final decision was reached hit a blank wall.
“As students of the university, our clients on 3rd May 2019, wrote the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor in reference to Section 5.7 of the Students Handbook as a way of exhausting all avenues before going with the matter out and the response from the Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor was to the effect that he would do nothing on the matter.”
Such a response, according to the lawyer, “…means the ADVC (Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor) is in agreement with the Speaker, the Dean of Students, and that of the Presiding Officer for the last election, which our clients challenge to be unfair.”
When contacted for their comments on the issue, the University’s Dean of Students, Fishani Chirwa confirmed receiving the legal document. He however said he was not in a position to comment on behalf of the University as it is the responsibility of the University’s Registrar.
“Yes, I can confirm to have received the letter. However, the senders jumped the office of the Registrar so I forwarded it to them. So whatever step the University is going to take will be handled by that office.” He said.
Efforts to talk to Chuck Mwale, the University’s Speaker of the Students Union Representative Council, proved futile as his phone went unanswered.
Meanwhile, as we went to press, the Students’ Union Representative Council’s General Assembly was in session.
We are all eyes on what will transpire on this day, the 17th of May 2019.