The Star (Nairobi)

3 December 2012

Kenya: KNUT Eyes Political Seats to Back Teachers' Interest

Kenya National Union of Teachers has unveiled plans to win many political seats to champion members' rights. Executive officer George Okwara and Kakamega Central and Lugari executive secretaries Laden Vitonye and Makhanu Namuinguli vowed not to leave leadership to "quacks".

We are the true bearers of society. If we can shape a child from childhood, why not shape the political destiny of Kenya? they asked.

Speaking at Knut Teso burial and benevolent scheme 14th AGM in Amagoro, Okwara said 37 executive secretaries and officials will run for parliamentary, governor and senator Seats.

The Teso North parliamentary aspirant said MPs Bifoli Wakoli and Jefferson Kingi have always backed them in parliament.

"What will happen in the event that they cease to be MPs? We need our own to play ball for us," Okwara said. Namuinguli, who was chief guest, said Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo was a project of the teachers in 1997 when he made his debut.

He urged more union officials to vie for the political seats because they do not have to resign to join politics. Vitonye said history will judge teachers harshly if they fail to back their own.

He appealed to the 1,500 members of Knut Teso branch to support Okwara. Namuinguli accused rival Kuppet of colluding with some Teachers Service Commission clerks to have Knut members 2% salary deducted and remitted to them as union dues.

He said incidences of teachers molesting underage girls have increased, adding that five teachers in Lugari have been dismissed and de-registered.

Teso executive secretary Deogratious Owaya said he had received one similar case which is under investigation. Namuinguli had also special message for presidential aspirants. "No regard for teachers! Do it at you own peril?"

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