Mandela Institute’s Vice Chancellor quits amid abuse of office claims

15Aug 2016
Edward Qorro
The Guardian
Mandela Institute’s Vice Chancellor quits amid abuse of office claims

THE Vice Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Prof Burton Mwamila, has stepped down from his post after four years of steering the sh38.7 billion worth of learning centre.

The former engineering don at the University of Dar es Salaam leaves unceremoniously four months after alleged reports of misuse of public funds at the institution surfaced.

In April 19, this year, Jamhuri Newspaper, a local weekly carried a story on the misuse of public funds at NM-AIST, alleging that its Vice Chancellor had rented apartments for its staff within the affluent Njiro area, which stayed unoccupied.

The newspaper alleged that the owner of the apartments, had been paid sh43million as rent for the unoccupied apartment for three years in a row.

It further alleged that the institution had entered a fraudulent deal as it had a research village and rest houses which were capable of hosting a number of its staff.

In his interview with The Guardian, Prof Mwamila vehemently denied the allegations by the weekly paper saying the institution ceased renting the house since December 31, 2015.

According to Mwamila, the Pan African based University had not renewed the contract for the property since its last tenant, Prof Dunstan Shemwetta, the institution’s former Vice Chancellor responsible for academics, research and innovation.

One of the claims highlighted by the weekly Swahili paper alleged that the Vice Chancellor was misusing public funds after he allegedly rented the bloc C apartment for a close friend, who happens to be an employee with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).

The reports compelled the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training to form a commission to investigate the claims, according to a source privy to the institution.

“After the story was published by the local paper, we had some officials from the ministry concerned on the ground to investigate the reports of abuse of office by the don,” claimed the source.Prof Mwamila resigns from his post at a point when the commission is still investigating the matter.

Reacting to the unexpected move, former Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Planning, Finance and Administration with NM-AIST, Prof Patrick Ndakidemi - who worked closely with Prof Mwamila - said he was shocked by the news of his colleague’s departure.

According to Prof Ndakidemi, Prof Mwamila was a hard working academician who devoted much of his time and strength in the prosperity of the Pan African university.“He was truly a hard working man and the brains behind NM-AIST,” explained Prof Ndakidemi.

Former Vice Chancellor with Mbeya University of Science and Technology(MUST), Prof Osmund Kaunde, has since August 1, this year, been the new acting Vice Chancellor of NM-AIST, an appointment which has since been confirmed by Karoli Njau, NM-AIST’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic, Research and Innovation.

The institute is one of the Pan-African institutions of science and technology within sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) whose mission is to deliver and promote high quality and internationally competitive teaching and learning, research and innovation, and public service in Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation (SETI).

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