Knut braces for highly divisive poll

A mugshot of KNUT Assistant Secretary General Collins Oyuu. [Beverlyne Musili/Standard]
Four regions are this week fighting to claim top Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) leadership positions in what is threatening to tear the union apart.

Nyanza, Mombasa, Western and Central regions are set to face off in an election that has been billed as the toughest and most polarising in the union’s history.

At stake are positions of the national chairman, first vice national chairman, second vice national chairman and assistant secretary general.

The elections are scheduled for Friday this week during Knut Annual Delegates Conference (ADC) at Bomas of Kenya, where 1,870 delegates will vote.

The four regions cumulatively have 926 delegates.

Broken down, Nyanza has 330 delegates, Western 239, Central 217 and Coast 140.

Nairobi has 44 delegates, Eastern 93, North Eastern 21 and Rift Valley 503.

Wycliffe Omuchei, who is the acting national chairman, is the sole candidate, for now, contesting the position. Omuchei is from Western.

He assumed the position after the office fell vacant following a vicious fight between secretary general Wilson Sossion and former office holder Mudzo Nzili.

The Standard established yesterday that surprise candidates may pop up during the Election Day to throw Omuchei off his feet.

Knut election procedures allow candidates to declare interest on the conference floor during the voting day.

The toughest fight, however, is the scramble to fill the first vice national chairman position previously occupied by Omuchei.

Two candidates,­Collins Oyuu and Patrick Karinga, will square it out in what insiders say is an epic battle that will shape succession politics in the union.

Karinga

(Central region) is the current executive chairman Nyeri branch while Oyuu (Nyanza region) is the current assistant secretary general.

Sossion, who has huge following from the Rift Valley delegates, has openly expressed confidence in Oyuu, sparking sharp differences with senior union officials.

National treasurer John Matiangi has openly supported Karinga and accused Oyuu of fighting for a slot reserved for Central region.

Oyuu is from Nyanza region. It emerged that ascension of Oyuu to the top Knut position will complicate succession battles in the union.

If elected, he is likely to replace Omuchei as national chairman. It emerged Omuchei is set to retire after his term ends in 2021.

This will complicate chances of the current deputy secretary general, Hesbon Otieno from succeeding Sossion.

Insiders say that if Oyuu becomes a substantive national chairman, it would be a tall order for Otieno, who is also from Nyanza, to ascend to the coveted secretary general position.

Otieno led the union’s rebel axis that ousted Sossion on grounds that he was holding two jobs - serving as a nominated MP and secretary general.

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KNUT electionsKnut Annual Delegates Conference