The controversial teachers’ salary increment of between 50-60pc by the courts will automatically take a nastier political angle should the government maintain their earlier stand that there is no money to pay teachers.
Already, a section of government wants a constitutional challenge filed to counter the ruling much to the detriment of the teachers who celebrated the court ruling countrywide.
The so-called conservatives in government are pushing for no payment but we have also the liberals who want teachers paid what is due to them after a long struggle passing through three regimes.
The conservatives are mainly top civil servants who do not want to be seen as having misled the government. They include officers based at the State Law Office, Teachers Service Commission, Salary and Remuneration Commission and Treasury.
The conservatives have been holding crisis talks with State House to avert a possible lashback by teachers as schools re-open across the country, in the event that the conservatives hold sway.
The liberals are mainly politicians who fear the political ramification of not paying. Already, William Ruto has come out to state that the teachers’ union officials should hold their horses as the government works out on modalities to honour the court ruling. It is said that the government wants to engage parliament to use its powers and have a supplementary budget passed to raise the money. State House operatives have engaged TSC to work with parliament, the ministry of Education and Treasury to address the issue as a first priority.
Parliament, in the new constitutional dispensation, has the powers to allocate funds to executive. The ball now is in the hands of the parliamentary budget committee headed by its chairman, Mutava Musyimi.
Another move by the government is to have the teachers’ officials led by Knut boss Wilson Sossion and Kuppet Omboko Milemba brought on roundtable negotiations with none rather than Uhuru Kenyatta chairing the sessions to find a solution to the looming stalemate. However, those opposed to this move say that the president may be humiliated if the teachers’ officials fail to honour the court ruling or the talks fail to reach a conclusive decision.
The officials may not agree on grounds that it has been a long journey for them and that their members will start claims that they have been bribed by the state.
It is only recently that Western MPs humiliated the president by rejecting an invitation to State House to discuss Uganda sugar import controversy. The person said to have been behind the MPs’ aborted visit was former cabinet secretary in the Moi era, Amukoa Anangwe, now a lecturer at the University of Dar es salaam. He is slowly finding his way in the establishment as one of the resource persons in Jubilee 2017 re-election design mechanism.
Fear within Jubilee is that the opposition wants to use the stalemate for political gains. Already, Kalonzo Musyoka has come out in support of the teachers. Reports have it that the opposition Cord is planning to hijack the looming strike if the two parties do not reach an amicable agreement. It is clear that a major clash is in the offing. Attorney General Githu Mungai has openly stated paying the money will plunge the government into an economic crisis. Fear is that civil servants will also make their huge demands on the government which may possibly paralyse the state. Others say that the government is broke and that is why it was not able to release money to counties and even delayed releasing salaries for MPs and parliamentary staff.
The teachers’ strike is likely to spread to other areas hence the need to be countered and nipped in the bud at all costs. Uhuru is said to have been briefed on the pros and cons of the crisis referred to within the corridors of power as the “teachers headache”. Uhuru, it is said, does not want to come out in open and make his stand known. It is on these grounds that immediately after the ruling, he did not comment. His handlers want him to keenly follow the unfolding events as the government pursues legal solution as well as engaging into negotiation talks with relevant unions officials.
Already, we have information that a plan to lay off 18,500 public servants has been shelved until the teachers’ issue is solved.
Before now, a red flag has been raised on the Sh17 billion teachers pay saga. It will have an impact on the economy and will lead to higher taxations on Kenyans across the board.
That other trade unions are gearing to enter into the fray is no secret. Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union have agreed to issue a strike notice on health workers terms of service through their chairman Samuel Oroko. The nurses union led by secretary general Seth Panyoko is also scheming.
After moving from one court of law to another in search of their “rights”, teachers would perhaps have their laugh over the matter if the government would find it fit to comply with the rule of law and hand over the 50-60 salary increment to the teachers.
However, should the government maintain their earlier position that there was no money to pay Kenyan teachers the pay awarded by the court, then the whole matter would shift from law courts to political scenes, that is according to a Knut branch executive secretary who is also a member of Knut executive council, the only body that gives directions to the secretary general on the way forward.
According to the official, should the government remain adamant on “deliberately and unlawfully refusing to pay teachers their rightful dues, we will mobilise our members to kick out President Kenyatta out of State House come 2017 general elections.”
He said the more than 200,000 teaching force will be given the work of convincing only 10 people to vote against Uhuru.
“This is not the first time we will be doing this. We successfully applied this method during 2002 general election against Uhuru and Moi. We will do it again,” he said with confidence.
“This is the path the Knut executive council has deliberated upon and unanimously agreed to take should the shove come to push. This is the way to go believe you me,” he said and added that this would give teachers constituency more than 2 million votes to kick Uhuru out of State House.
It now seems that the use of teachers’ tyranny of numbers would be the teachers’ last and secret weapon to force the Uhuru government to yield and give teachers their right. However, that may be easier said than done.
Nevertheless, knowing the voting pattern of Kenyan masses, the teachers’ only weapon may not be applicable in some areas like Central province. In fact, this strategy may only work out in the opposition zones where even under normal circumstances; they may not have voted Uhuru for president in the first place.
This is solely because Kenyan voters use their hearts as opposed to their minds during voting.
During the Mwingi branch Knut annual general meeting which was chaired by the national chairman Mudzo Nzili at Mwingi Boys left nothing to speculations that indeed teachers are plotting for what they termed “justifiable”, a major strike with major repercussions.
“We abided by the court’s ruling when it ruled that we end the strike and wait for the court orders. We are law abiding citizens and responsible Kenyans. Now that the courts have ruled in our favour, let the same responsibility be reflected by the government by paying us 50-60pc ordered by the same court they went to seek redress from,” he said amid thunderous cheers from the teachers.
He thanked Mwingi teachers for patriotism towards the teachers’ plight. He said that in all teachers’ strikes, Mwingi teachers led the way for paralysing learning 100pc. “I am therefore asking you to use the same blend for September strike if our August payslips do not reflect 50-60pc salary rises” he said amid songs thus “Nikiitwa nikafanye kazi ya chama nitaitika” (If called to defend our union, I will be there).
Nzili charged teachers further by taking teachers through the history of their struggle where he claimed that the 50-60pc figures which the courts awarded the teachers was actually arrived at by TSC themselves and not the courts or Knut.
He said that irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling, teachers will start preparing for a massive strike if the August teachers’ salaries will not reflect the 50-60pc increment which was awarded twice by the courts. “In any case this 50-60pc salary increment was the proposal of the teachers’ employer the Teachers Service Commission,” he said amid cheers from the teachers.
Cyprian is a blogger who has an interest in politics, news, current affairs, people and anything that is of interest to society. My aim is to inform and update readers with the most accurate information.