Kuppet officials push for review of the union's 2010 constitution

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (kuppet) led by their leaders National General Secretary Akelo Misori,Jeremiah Omboka Milemba (chairman) and his Vice Julius Korir address the press in Eldoret. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has pitched a case for a review of its constitution, which they argue will lead to inclusivity and entrench democratic processes.

At the centre of the push is expansion of elective positions from 10 to 16 to enable officials from marginalised regions like Coast, North Eastern and Nairobi to take up national leadership slots.

The clamour to change the constitution, The Standard established, is to also to push for adoption of the Proportional Representation (Pro Rata) in the appointment of union delegates.

An internal report seen by The Standard shows that the present Kuppet constitution was enacted in 2010 when the union had only 20,000 members.

The document says that at that time Kuppet was not present in some parts of the country and it only provided for 10 delegates per branch during union’s decision-making processes including elections of officials.

This means that in the 47 county branches, the union had only one delegate for every 41 union members.

“Today, Kuppet has over 120,000 members spread throughout the country represented by the same number of delegates. Each union delegate today represents not less than 250 teachers, meaning that Kuppet decision-making has become less democratic,” report says.

And now, union officials argue that for Kuppet to meet the principle of the Constitution of Kenya, that Article 41 gives all union members the right to participate in affairs of the union - a review of the document is necessary.

“Constitutions are dynamic and live documents which should meet the needs of organisations or citizens in a polity. Kuppet has tried to mitigate the weaknesses of the current constitution by nominating women, the youth, teachers living with disability and marginalised members to union committees. The time has come for a thorough overhaul of the Constitution, which should happen more than one year before union elections in the first quarter of 2026,” reads the document.

The pitch has however elicited opposition from some of the Kuppet board members who argued that the constitutional review process is aimed at creating positions for cronies and increasing retirement of senior officers.

The Kuppet report, however says: “Claims that the review is meant to change the retirement age of union officials are being made by unscrupulous delegates who are out to defeat the purpose of the review. The retirement age of Kuppet officials is clearly provided under the current Constitution and in national legislation and regulations.”

The document further says that the current constitutional provision on resignation before contesting a different position is a matter under consideration by delegates.

“It was informed by standard democratic practice which is contained in Kenyan laws. It is not long ago when Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetangula resigned from his Senate seat to contest his new position,” report says.

Union secretary general Akello Misori and the national chairman Omboko Milemba yesterday downplayed the opposition to the constitutional review.

“The noise you are hearing is normal because it is never easy to change a constitution. But it shall be done. So we encourage members to discuss it,” said Milemba.

Misori however steered clear of the proposals. “Kuppet is a democratic union and we have internal mechanisms to address all issues,” he said.

Supporting the constitutional review, the Kuppet document says the decision is to entrench democracy in the union.

It says that newly-registered branches, especially in Coast and North Eastern regions, have for long been excluded from mainstream union leadership.

“The two regions have not produced any national leader in Kuppet despite their accounting for nine out of 47 branches,” it reads.

The document further says that the union also performs dismally in gender balance, with only one woman elected to national office, out of 10 members.

It says that teachers living with disability lack representation in the union’s organs, contrary to constitutional requirements on inclusion.

“These shortcomings can only be addressed by a review of the constitution to empower the union’s members in decision-making and address barriers to leadership,” reads the document.

Last week, secondary schools’ teachers demanded expansion of their representation in the union at the national level.

The members pushed for a review of the current union’s constitution to align with the Constitution of Kenya.

The teachers argued that this would give all members the right to participate in affairs of the union, and cater for gender parity and representation of teachers living with disability at the national level.

Speaking in Nairobi, executive secretary, Nairobi Moses Mbora reiterated that the review will ensure all counties have equal representation to the national delegates conference in proportion to the number of teachers in their branches.

The teacher’s leaders from regions of Coast, Kiambu, Kajiado, Nairobi, Machakos, observed that the constitutional review would give them a voice in decision-making as well as ensuring more union members participate in electing national leaders.

"Decision-making has remained in the hands of just 480 delegates, like it was in 2010, with none of the union’s national executive leaders coming from the new branches," noted Mbora.

Kuppet Mombasa branch executive director Lynett Kamadi said the system will give a voice to all teachers and bring gender parity.

She said women representation has remained unacceptably low, with only one woman elected to national office, teachers living with disability have also not been properly represented.