Sharp divisions have emerged at the top leadership of the giant teachers’ union, Knut on who the more than 305,000 teachers should support in the August 8 polls.
Whereas the Secretary-General Wilson Sossion has asked all teachers to vote out the Jubilee administration to save the teaching profession, Knut chairman Mudzo Nzili is behind Jubilee administration.
Mr Sossion said teachers should vote for Raila Odinga-led National Super Alliance (Nasa) since it has committed to hire annually 20,000 teachers while Jubilee government has only managed to hire 5,000 annually.
“Under Nasa government, workers shall be respected and 20,000 teachers shall be hired annually. Tuition shall be free and of good quality,” said Mr Sossion in a statement.
He went on: “The laptop programme shall be discarded for proper ICT laboratories in all public schools in collaboration with county governments.”
Mr Odinga’s party, the Orange Democratic Movement has since proposed the nomination of Mr Sossion as an MP in the next Parliament.
Mr Sossion has however vowed not to resign insisting that he will be defending the rights of workers and not the party that has proposed his nomination. A section of union officials from Kiambu county last week asked him to quit.
“I am not contesting any seat but I have just been nominated, for that matter I will not resign.
“I will represent a special interest group which is workers,” said Mr Sossion.
During the launch of Nasa manifesto, Mr Sossion attended the event and defended his decision saying workers will no longer be partakers of policies but will participate in their formulation.
On Thursday, Mr Nzili was in Kwale County with Deputy President William Ruto campaigning for the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
DIFFER IN PUBLIC
But though he supports the government, teachers were free to vote for candidates of their choice, he added.
“I have the liberty to choose a political party of my choice and that is why as an individual, I am supporting Jubilee,” said Mr Nzili. He has always had a soft spot for the government while Mr Sossion has been its fierce critic and has always asked Kenyans to vote it out.
In 2015, the two differed public after Mr Nzili led other union officials to State House for a meeting with President Kenyatta following a teachers strike that had paralysed learning in public schools. Mr Sossion boycotted the meeting.
Last year, they again differed over new examination regulations that had been introduced by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matian’gi to curb cheating.
Mr Sossion opposed the regulations while Mr Nzili supported them. In 2014, they differed over a decision by Mr Sossion to boycott Labour Day celebrations. Mr Nzili however, attended the event and made it clear that politics should not be mixed with teachers’ issues.
The two leaders’ differences date back to 2013 when Mr Sossion managed to oust Mr Nzili who was then acting secretary general.
The union’s top decision making organ, the National Executive Council has on several occasions tried to reconcile the two leaders.