By PETER OPIYO
Education minister Mutula Kilonzo accused MPs of refusing to approve an increase in the Ministry of Education budget to honour the 1997 pay agreement with teachers. But MPs refused to buy his argument with Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto saying he never presented such an argument when he presented his estimates before the House.
“I will not pay a penny until you give me the money,” said Mutula.
Nevertheless, he said he has presented a memo to the Cabinet to look at the accusations that civil servants were awarded pay increase and teachers ignored, promising to give the feedback to the House. He, however, criticised the violence meted on the striking teachers.
The MPs interrupted the business of the House to discuss the ongoing teachers’ strike and called on the Government to address their grievances.
They asked the teachers to be realistic in their demands, saying what they are agitating for cannot be financed.
“Some revenue can be raised to pay teachers, but the demand raised by teachers is mindboggling and the reality is against that kind of demand and again there would be a spiral effect of such an award,” said Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo.
Eldoret South MP Peris Simam, who moved the adjournment Motion, wondered why the Government has not developed a policy on payment of teachers as Nominated MP Mohammed Affey urged teachers to give dialogue a chance.
Butula MP Alfred Odhiambo criticised the Ministry of Education for not being proactive to award an increment at the time other civil servants were paid. While supporting the teachers’ rights to go on strike, Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa said this should be done within the law without infringing on other people’s rights.
“The teachers have their rights but they must do so in a dignified manner. We need to stop this culture of violence. Kenyans should exercise their rights but do that decently,” said Wamalwa.
But Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba blamed the Government for setting the tone on impunity, saying there is no way it can expect teachers to obey court orders while the State has disregarded a ruling on the appointment of County Commissioners. Teachers have disregarded a court order declaring the strike illegal and have vowed to continue with the strike.
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