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Sossion: Why they want me out of the giant teachers union

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Embattled Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion Saturday spoke for the first time since the palace coup staged against him by the union’s top organ on Thursday night, blaming his predicament on powerful forces within the government.

After stormy three months fight with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Mr Sossion was finally edged out and isolated in a board room coup of the 193,000-member strong union.

The Thursday night coup happened despite spirited but unsuccessful efforts by Opposition leader Raila Odinga to mediate in the dispute between the teachers’ employer and the union.

In a candid interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Sossion accused the teachers employer of arm-twisting the Knut National Executive Council (NEC) to kick him out to pave way for the release of the union’s dues from its membership which it (TSC) had withheld since last month.

He accused powerful forces in and outside government of fuelling a narrative that he was opposed to the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) to pit him against the government.

Mr Sossion claims that the narrative that 90,000 members had left the union due to validation with 18,000 recently decamping to the rival Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) was part of a spin to kick him out of leadership — which he claims to have been bought line, hook and sinker by the Knut leadership.

“In the phase two of the salary increment, our members were denied their rightful Sh10,000 increment which they were told would only be released once they left Knut. Sadly, this was their rightful dues from the Collective Bargaining (CBA) agreement which we bargained and duly signed on their behalf,” said Mr Sossion in an interview.

He added: “We are living in very interesting times where the Civil Society has died, the opposition has been neutralised, the independent Commissions are under capture by the state, and next in line is to neutralise trade unions with Knut being the first target … others will follow in due course.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have given an OK for TSC and Ministry of Education to proceed with the coup at Knut headquarters after a series of briefing from top government officials.

READ ALSO:   Why Knut officials want Sossion out - VIDEO

Mr Sossion, however, noted that he has no personal problem or issue with President Kenyatta with whom he claims to “enjoy a good chemistry just like with Mr Odinga.”

“It should be remembered that in 2009, it is President Kenyatta and myself who unlocked the teachers’ salary stalemate amicably, and the same happened in 2011 when we terminated employment of teachers on contract,” stated Mr Sossion.

He added: “President Kenyatta and myself also ironed out the standoff over the discrepancies between teachers and civil servants in 2012 and in 2013 strike, which led to the road map for implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with commuter allowance being paid in two phases with a similar scenario playing out in 2016.”

Mr Sossion, however, claimed that some people in the corridors of power had painted a picture before the Presidency that he was fighting the government and out to scuttle the Big Four agenda and Mr Kenyatta’s legacy.

“I cannot fight the President as I do not have the means or the interest. In any event, I am the only one in this country who can tell the President without fear of repercussions when and where things are going wrong. Apparently, many people do not like to tell the President the truth,” said Mr Sossion.

He singled out TSC Secretary Nancy Macharia for allegedly seeking to wreck the giant union from within by “sponsoring a leadership wrangle, defying court orders, engaging in a smear campaign against the union’s top leadership and starving the union of funds from members.”

The unfolding events saw divisions at the Knut’s top leadership culminating with Mr Sossion’s isolation, ouster and eventual deregistration by the registrar of trade unions with his replacement by his deputy Mr Hesbon Otieno, in acting capacity.

Despite fighting for the rights of teachers for the last 10 years, six of which as the Secretary General, Mr Sossion is now left to battle for survival within the corridors of justice, with his fall attributed to the fight with the Ministry of Education over the CBC, which the government has particularly been keen on rolling out.

READ ALSO:   Why Knut officials want Sossion out - VIDEO

The mass transfer of teachers under the delocalisation programme, which included union officials in various branches, the push for promotion of teachers and salary increment in line with the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) are some of the sticky issues he rolled up his sleeve to fight for implementation — from which he met his Waterloo.

Mr Sossion, even after being replaced on an acting capacity, is defiant that he is still the union’s Secretary General and spokesperson stating, that it is only an Annual Delegates Conference (ADC), the union’s top decision making organ, that can kick him out of office through a resolution.

It has emerged from multiple sources that Mr Odinga attempted to broker a truce between Knut, TSC and the Ministry of Education to aver the fallout, but the atmosphere was so polluted that the move was met with a lot of resistance.

“TSC and the Ministry of Education had made so much inroads by arm-twisting the Knut leadership that due to the double pronged approach, the government mandarins were assured that they would have their way in the long run and had no reason to engage in talks with Raila,” said a source privy to the intrigues.

Another source stated that Mr Odinga had made a lot of headways towards procuring a deal, but was stopped on his tracks by government operatives who sold him the narrative that Mr Sossion was hell-bent on scuttling President Kenyatta’s legacy by opposing the CBC and fighting TSC over various policies rolled out.

 “I have no personal issue with the NEC members who purport to have kicked me out of the union leadership in total disregard to the existing court orders, which they were duly served with alongside the Registrar of Trade Unions who is also in contempt of court by registering the officials as bona fide leaders of the union,” Mr Sossion says.

He added: “It is only an Annual Delegates Conference (ADC) — which is set to meet in December — that can oust me from office and not any other organ. The union leaders are in pure contempt of court. But is must go on record that I am open for discussion as every conflict must be resolved in the interest of the union members.”

READ ALSO:   Why Knut officials want Sossion out - VIDEO

The outspoken but embattled Secretary General said for the last ten years, he had led fruitful negotiations with TSC and Ministry of Education, which benefited teachers.

“What the government has done is to ensure they gave a dog (him) a bad name before hanging it. The claims that I have acted alone in most of the issues is a lie as all the actions we have taken had the backing of the ADC whose resolutions is final and binding,” he said.

Mr Sossion has been opposed to the curriculum since its piloting phases to its implementation citing illegality, a position which has been taken as that of the Knut.

A source told the Sunday Nation that the Knut leaders engaged in a series of secret meetings with the TSC where they struck a deal to remove Mr Sossion from office to pave way for release of union dues.

Knut chairman Wycliffe Omucheyi defended the decision to suspend Mr Sossion, saying it had nothing to do with external forces as it came out of concerns from teachers and a desire to save the union from collapsing.

“There comes a time when an individual’s interests surpass those of an organisation. Through various consultations, we had to suspend our brother for the sake of teachers,” said Mr Omucheyi.

Some executive secretaries and other teachers from the counties were mobilised and mandated to come and camp at the Knut headquarters as the NEC members met at a secret city hotel in Nairobi.

Mr Otieno, after taking over office, recalled a circular issued by Mr Sossion giving executive secretaries direction on the December 1 annual delegate’s conference in Kakamega.

 Mr Sossion’s woes started after he called for teachers to boycott the new competency based curriculum training in April which led to his deregistration by TSC.

Sunday Nation

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Form Two girl stabs man to death

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A Form Two student stabbed a man to death following a quarrel, Bomet officials said.

The girl, 18, stabbed the 29-year-old shoe-shiner at Boito Trading Centre on Monday night.

Boito chief John Cheruiyot said a scuffle ensured after the girl rejected advances from the man.

“The man is said to have attempted to seduce the girl and his advances were spurned leading to the scuffle,” Mr Cheruiyot said.

Konoin police boss Alex Shikondi said the suspect was arrested and is being detained at Mogogosiek Police Station.

The body of the victim was moved to Kapkatet Sub-County Hospital mortuary.

Meanwhile in Gem, Siaya, a 15-year-old girl was on Monday evening stabbed to death by her boyfriend.

Gem police boss Harriet Kinya said the suspect, Fredrick Akula Onyango, 23, has a pending defilement case in court.

The suspect is in police custody and will be arraigned once investigation is complete, the police boss said.

In another incident a 35-year-old man committed suicide by jumping into a well after a domestic disagreement with his wife.

Ms Kinya, who confirmed the incident, said the body of the victim was moved to Bondo Sub-County Hospital mortuary for post-mortem.

by nation

READ ALSO:   Why Knut officials want Sossion out - VIDEO
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News

Man was ‘victim of domestic abuse’

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The family of a man who died after he drove his vehicle into the Indian Ocean last weekend, claims he had endured years of domestic abuse by his wife.

On Tuesday, the victim’s mother, Musangi Mutinda, accused her son’s wife of misrepresenting issues and being economical with the truth.

In an interview with the Nation newspaper at her Kyanika village home in Kitui County, the grieving mother said her son had been recovering from severe burns inflicted when his wife scalded him with hot water in November.

“My son died out of depression and despair because of the domestic violence and marital anguish he endured at home.

“It is, therefore, wrong for his wife to insinuate he had gone mad,” said Mrs Mutinda.

Mrs Musangi Mutinda, John Mutinda’s mother, during the interview on December 10, 2019. PHOTO | KITAVI MUTUA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

On Saturday, the man stormed out of his house in Vanga Estate, Mombasa, at around 4 am, got into his vehicle, sped off towards the Likoni crossing, and drove into the ocean.

According to his relative, Bernard Kieti, he told his wife that he had ”received a call from his late father” before leaving the house in a huff.

“He was saying things that his wife could not comprehend when he left. The wife tried in vain to stop him,” Mr Kieti, who spoke on behalf of the family, said during an interview at the crossing.

READ ALSO:   Why Knut officials want Sossion out - VIDEO

But a visibly angry mother said the woman was the reason her son decided to take his own life. She said that life with her was unbearable.

While displaying photographs of her son, with burn wounds all over his chest, Mrs Mutinda said the wife’s misrepresentation of facts aggravated the pain of losing the father of three children.

“After she scalded him with hot water, she rushed to lodge a complaint at Central Police Station in Mombasa, prompting police to lock up my son for four days,” the mother said, adding that he was released without charges.

Mrs Mutinda urged police in Mombasa to investigate her daughter-in-law over the alleged domestic abuse and release the findings of the post-mortem for the truth to be known.

Her story was corroborated by the victim’s siblings, who rejected the narrative of mental disturbance but regretted not intervening earlier to keep him from giving up on his life.

Ruth Mueni breaks down after her husband’s body was retrieved from the ocean at the Likoni Channel on December 7, 2019. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Contacted for comment, Ms Mueni acknowledged they had marital issues but insisted the media should let her mourn her husband in peace.

She declined to discuss why she scalded her late husband with hot water, only saying she needed time to explain the circumstances to her mother-in-law and other family members who complained about her.

READ ALSO:   Why Knut officials want Sossion out - VIDEO

“Who has given you those photos? This is a private family issue. I cannot talk at the moment because I am at a police station organising the postmortem,” she said, adding the media should not bother her as she mourns her husband.

According to the Kenya Ferry Services, Mr Mutinda, 46, drove straight into the sea at around 4.20 am Saturday without paying for the ticket.

Soon after the incident, officers from the Kenya Navy and the Kenya Police Marine swung into action.

The victim’s body was retrieved shortly after 9 am and taken to Jocham Hospital mortuary.

By nation

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Justin Muturi’s encounter with Uganda’s famous kneeling culture

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Speaker of the National Assembly, Justin Muturi, was recently treated to a famous Ugandan culture when a male adult knelt before him.

Muturi is currently leading the Kenya contingent that is competing at the East Africa Assembly Games in Kampala.

While on a tour of the Vipers Stadium, alongside his Ugandan counterpart Rebecca Kadaga, Muturi sat and watched as a smiling chap knelt before Kadaga in a bid to help her sign the guest book at the venue.

Kneeling before adults, especially prominent personalities, is a common occurrence in Uganda.

As part of the practice, women are encouraged to kneel before their husbands while exchanging greetings and when serving them food.

By NN

READ ALSO:   Why Knut officials want Sossion out - VIDEO
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