Will the real KUSO chair please step forward
Internal wrangles, communication breakdown and fight for power are at the centre of a Kenya University Students Organisation (KUSO) row that has seen three student leaders fight over the chair position for the last two years.
When Campus Vibe ran a story last week titled Natafuta mrembo lightskin - KUSO chair opens up on love, power and money, Anthony Manyara’s two opponents came out guns blazing, claiming that they are actually the KUSO bosses.
Not only that, Campus Vibe has now learned that comrades in institutions around the country have been split into three factions, each with their own chair. The three comrades contesting the leadership of the organisation are Nimo Sheikh, Antony Manyara and Fikirini Jacobs.
Manyara, who should be serving his second term, says he was elected through a popular vote, scooping 5,632 votes and defeating his opponent Fred Otieno who got 327 votes.
“KUSO held online elections chaired by an independent commission. I participated and won,” Manyara, a fifth-year actuarial science student at UoN said. Manyara, who is also a first year law student at the same institution, claims that he vied for the KUSO chair position and won unopposed.
“We may have different splinter groups but what matters most is that I have been at the forefront advocating for resolution of issues like Helb for students at the national level,” he said. His opponent Nimo Sheikh however says she is still in office and does not recognise the online elections held on July 7th this year that saw Manyara ‘return’ to the seat.
“We postponed the elections due to Covid-19 and we didn’t agree on online elections. We are waiting to conduct face-to-face elections,” she said, insisting that she will continue serving until physical elections are held.
As for Jacobs, the former students’ president at Pwani University, says he was endorsed by students who called for his participation in the elections.
“After winning the Pwani University top seat, students from other campuses demanded that I contest for KUSO chairmanship,” he said, adding that, “I was ready to lose and accept defeat. A week later, I saw the other section holding elections at Uhuru Park yet elections were to be held at MMU as earlier indicated.”
Ndege Sirkal, one of the founders of KUSO, laments that the current leadership wrangles are shifting the focus of the organisation from relevant issues to personal attacks.
“We (founders) recognise Fikirini Jacobs as the chair. He is in office having gone through elections held by the outgoing office as stipulated in the constitution,” he said.
The KUSO Constitution provides that no student leader ‘shall contest an election if he/she will cease to be a student of the university or college within three months after the date of elections.’
It also provides for creation of an Elections Appeals Tribunal to oversee election disputes. Candidates in the contested seat cannot sit in the tribunal.