One man one job new faction to takeover Kuppet leadership in reforms

One man one job new faction to takeover Kuppet leadership in reforms

A section of members of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) have heightened their push for reforms in the entity that could see the exit of several high-ranking officials among them chairman Omboko Milemba.

Milemba, also the Emuhaya MP, and Bungoma Woman Rep Catherine Wambilyanga, who doubles up as Kuppet Secretary for Gender and Women, are among top union officials who could be forced to exit should the clamour to bar officials from holding two jobs change.

Should this clause be changed, several officials at the branch level who also double up as Ward Reps, Executive Committee Members and Chief Officers could be pushed out.

Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori and National Treasurer Mwethi Njenga are also not off the hook, as those pro-reforms want all officials who have attained the mandatory retirement age of 60 years in public service pushed out. Their tenure is scheduled to end in December 2026.

Contacted yesterday, Milemba only said: “The issue of changing the constitution has been discussed by the union, though not entirely agreed upon. This is not the time for me to comment on it.”

Misori neither picked calls nor responded to messages sent to his phone.

A National Delegates Conference (NDC) convened on December 15 and 16, 2023 at the Kasarani Sports Complex in Nairobi to discuss and adopt the changes ended in disarray following sharp differences among officials and members.

Another Special National Delegates Conference is scheduled for this year where all members are expected to either ratify or reject the proposals through a secret ballot.

The proposals were presented to the Kasarani meeting by the National Constitutional Review Committee that had been tasked to look into the constitution and come up with proposals on areas that required review.

Soon after the botched Kasarani meeting, five Kuppet branches, among them Kiambu, Mombasa, Nairobi, Kajiado and Machakos issued a statement rebuking some unnamed senior officials of allegedly trying to sabotage the reforms agenda.

“Only through overhaul of the constitution will we empower all Kuppet members. We urge our colleagues to desist from cheap politics, disinformation and tribal manoeuvrings,” the statement signed by Lynet Kamadi (Mombasa Executive Secretary), Moses Thogo (Kiambu), Zaddock Kisienya (Kajiado), Moses Mbora (Nairobi) and Musembi Katuku (Machakos) read.

According to the five branch executive secretaries, the union has decided to adopt the proportional representation (pro-rata) to empower more members to participate in the election of national officials.

“Counties will send delegates in proportion to the number of teachers in their branches,” the branches had said.

They further stated: “The pro-rata system ensures that all union officials are elected by roughly the same number of union members. The system will give a voice to all teachers, including those from populous and marginalised groups.”

Insiders say the current constitution came into being when Kuppet had a small membership of only 20,000 but has since grown to more than 120,000.

The clamour for change in representation is said to be pegged on the fear that the current system could be used by counties, particularly those in Rift Valley, that are large in size yet have low membership.

Currently, each county produces 10 delegates irrespective of the number of members.

Thus the 17 counties in Rift Valley produce 170 out of a total of national 470 delegates that vote. Proponents of the pro-rata system argue that Rift Valley with fewer Kuppet members should not be allowed to have more delegates than counties such as Kiambu, Kakamega, Bungoma, Nairobi and Machakos that boast of bigger membership.

Members are also concerned over the low number of women representation, with only one female holding a position in the national office out of the 10 officials. Teachers with disabilities are also not represented.

And while those in management are pushing for the retirement age to be pushed to 65, majority of  members want it retained at 60, a move that could see the early exit of Misori, Njenga, Milemba, Wambilyanga and several top officials.

“Those in top management are pushing to retain the status quo, where officials serve in their capacities forever or the time of their choice to retire. But the majority of us are pushing to bring that culture to an end,” said one of the officials who sought anonymity to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Another contentious issue is the move by the leadership to raise the requisite membership fee to the National Executive Board from Sh50,000 to Sh300,000 that members claim was a scheme meant to discourage them from going for the positions.

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