December 14, 2017
The government should stop interfering with the affairs of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) as it is an independent body. The attack on the union by the government is a ploy to split and weaken the teachers union. Such attacks are uncalled for.
In a special edition of the Kenya Gazette date December 13, 2017, Phyllis Kandie, the Cabinet Secretary for the East African Affairs, Labour and Social Protection said that KNUT Secretary General William Sossion and ten other officials were in violation of Article 77 and 250 of the Constitution as they were state officers by way of nomination by an Act of Parliament.
Sossion is an ODM-Nominated Member of Parliament and the Secretary General of KNUT. As such, he holds two public office that is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution according to the Labour CS.
The fact that he is an ODM nominated Member of Parliament didn’t sit well with some of the members of the union. The rivalry between NASA and Jubilee may have found its way to the KNUT annual delegate conference in Mombasa today as it was disrupted following bitter political and leadership differences.
Some union members from Central Kenya disrupted the conference and calling for Mr. Sossion’s resignation and focus on dispensing his parliamentary duties as a nominated legislator. After the defiant Sossion insisted that he will not resign after the order from the CS to vacate the post, the conference quickly descended into a fight scene as members threw chairs at each other. The melee went on until the police were called to intervene and restore order.
It should be noted that this is not the first time the government has interfered with affairs of an independent body. In the just concluded presidential elections in Kenya, the opposition largely blamed the Independent and Electoral Commission of Kenya for being partisan. They petitioned at the Supreme Court of Kenya which led to the annulment of the August polls citing irregularities.
Many other independent bodies in Kenya that have failed to dispense their duties objectively due to interference from the government. For instance the office of the Director of Public Prosecution has failed to prosecute many government officials despite having the relevant evidences. Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is a defunct body that has failed to nail corrupt government officers, even from the country’s top most office.
Sossion’s defiance of the order by the CS is welcomed. Just because he is an opposition nominated Member of Parliament and a secretary general of a giant Union does not mean that he will fail in dispensing his duties. There are many government officials who hold more than one post and they have faired just well, a case in point is Fred Matiang’I who holds two cabinet dockets.
The government should spare the union its wrath and stop interfering with affairs of independent bodies.