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Sossion, Nzili should work and spare country needless drama

By The Standard | Nov 17th 2017 | 2 min read

Amid the current political crisis, a fresh leadership wrangle has hit the teaching fraternity. The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) leadership is sharply divided on the retirement age and the exit time for the current chairman.

Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion and Chairman Mudzo Nzili have reignited the dark politics of trade unionism where back-stabbing, gossip and betrayal are the order of the day.

While Mr Sossion insists Mr Nzili must proceed on leave pending his retirement six months from now, Nzili wants Sossion to leave the giant teachers’ union after being nominated to Parliament. Both of them claim to be reading from the Knut constitution, but their members must be feeling heavily let down. 

Granted, the two didn’t start off as best of friends. In 2013, Sossion, then the Knut chairman, plotted to dislodge Nzili from the more influential Secretary General’s docket. Nzili had taken over in an acting capacity from the late David Okuta.

It now seems the controversy didn’t die off. The recent bout of fights is not good for anyone: Not for the 180,000 teachers who are members of Knut; not for the millions of pupils in public schools; and certainly not good for parents struggling to get their children through school. It is also not good for a union that lost 25,000 members to defection and attrition in 2016.

And for a long time, the Government seemed bent on weakening the union for its capacity to agitate for teachers’ well-being and better terms of employment. Indeed, many Kenyans saw the Government’s hand in the formation of Kuppet, Knut’s rival, to whittle down its influence in the education sector after a string of strikes ground teaching in public schools.

It is disheartening to see the greed of a few Knut officials now threatening the future of the union. We urge the parties and delegates to resolve the matter as quickly as possible to avert a potentially more divisive standoff. Teachers and all education players would be the greatest losers if the current bad blood between the chairman and secretary general escalate. Let the two leaders put the interests of teachers ahead of their ego and personal gain.

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