10 January 2013

Kenya: Kitui Council Staff Declare Victory As Treasurer Is Transferred

Workers at the Kitui County Council who went on a work boycott late last November demanding the removal of the Treasurer, Alfred Kitoo, appear to have at last won.

Though the workers returned to work early December before Kitoo was removed as they had demanded after they were threatened with a sack, the Government has finally replaced him.

The staff had during the strike accused the treasurer of misusing money. The workers were mobilised into the strike by their Kenya Local Government workers' Union chairman, Joseph Mulei, and Treasurer Christine Kasiva. Kitoo has been replaced by Mr Daniel Twala, while

Kitoo has been moved to Machakos County Council. Twala, who reported for duty at the Kitui County hall on Monday, was previously treasurer at Trans Mara County Council. The new treasurer found Kitoo and the County Clerk, Samuel Owade, out of office.

The workers have been asking the Government to withhold replacement of County Clerk Michael Kimwele with Owade, but Kimwele whose stay was bitterly opposed by councillors led by Chairman John Mang'uye was moved to Meru Municipal Council.

The councillors have been up in arms against Kimwele for suspending Sh3000 cash payment to councillors for ward office rent saying the offices were non-existent. He had insisted the council would directly deal with landloads.

Kimwele had also opposed payment of night-outs to councillors if they only qualified for lunch allowances. He also stopped a Sh3,000 cash payment to the council for mobile phone airtime and insisted on purchasing the airtime for accounting purposes.

In early December, the staff suspended the boycott and resumed work when Eastern Province Local Government Officer Nelson Rob threatened them with dismissal.

Rob, who introduced Owade, offered the workers the option of resigning if they did not wish to resume duty. He warned that those who did not resume duty would be deemed to have absconded and would be sacked.

During the strike, Kasiva had said staff had been embarrassed by Kitoo's failure to remit workers monthly loan deductions to banks, leading to threats of auction of their property.

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