By Martin Mutua and Alex Ndegwa
Also falling in step in the national discourse on how to end the strikes whose effect is being felt in almost every Kenyan home is Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Then there is the focus on blundering ministers, who instead of negotiating an end to the strikes, expected to be joined by nurses on October 1, added fuel to fires through insensitive statements, which fouled the mood of negotiations.
The two principals have remained silent, preferring to work through Cabinet where the principle of collective responsibility distributes burden of culpability to the 40-plus members.
Just when the dispute to teachers had narrowed down to whether the Sh13.5 billion should be paid in three tranches as demanded by Government or at one-go as asked by teachers, Cabinet warns teachers they all face the sack.
Not just that – the Cabinet also declared if the strike goes on, the 100,000 trained teachers yet to be employed, and retired teachers under age 65, would be employed to salvage the crumbling public sector.
As the waves of strikes, which have roots in the unfulfilled return-to-work formulas signed with Government last year, roll on with devastating effects, questions remains how long they would allow labour unrest to fester.
The only time the President, who is retiring spoke, was to say the teachers were hurting the children whose interests they are employed to protect. Yet, because he has anchored his legacy on Free Primary Education, it now seems even this, too, is threatened as public education system flounders.
Thursday top Church leaders appealed to President Kibaki and PM Raila to personally address the matter to break the stalemate.
Led by Catholic primate John Cardinal Njue, Anglican’s Archbishop Eliud Wabukhala, and National Council of Churches of Kenya, they called on the two leaders to demonstrate resolute leadership on the ongoing strikes. (See separate story)