, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 1 – The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has suspended Secretary General Wilson Sossion pending an in-depth probe into his conduct.
The decision was taken on Monday following a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting during which 22 against two members voted in favour of a motion to have Sossion’s conduct discussed.
In the interim, the top organ of the union picked one of the two KNUT Deputy Secretary Generals, Hesbon Otieno, as the Acting Secretary-General to ensure the smooth running of affairs pending the introduction of a substantive agenda in a subsequent meeting to discuss Sossion’s conduct.
The acting Secretary General is set to advise on a date during which NEC will meet to discuss the fate of Sossion.
According to minutes seen by Capital FM News, Sossion unsuccessfully resisted attempts to introduce a motion against him constantly insisting that the NEC proceeded to discuss the agenda he had tabled.
“The SG (Sossion) walked out and stated that he wished to be allowed to proceed to the advisory council venue and that he was not part of the voting exercise,” the minutes recorded.
“Some members indicated their desire to abstain and were allowed to exercise their right to choose,” the document detailed.
The meeting was attended by KNUT top officials who included, Chairperson Wycliffe Omuchenyi, Deputy Secretary-General Collins Oyuu, Acting National Treasurer Muuo Ndiku, and Acting Vice National Treasurer, Dorothy Muthoni.
Sossion’s wars at the giant teachers’ union begun ahead of the 2017 Annual Delegates Conference (ADC) when then Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of East Africa, Labour and Social Protection, Phyllis Kandie, asked him alongside 10 other trade unionists to relinquish their positions following their election and nomination into public offices.
Sossion had been nominated to the National Assembly by the Orange Democratic Movement, a slot he accepted.
Also asked to quit in the early December gazette notice was Kenya Union Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) Chairperson Omboko Milemba who was elected and assumed office as Emuhaya Member of Parliament.
“It is notified for the general information that the following persons (the eleven) being State Officers as per the provisions of Article 77 and 260 of the Constitution cease to hold office immediately as trade union officials in their respective trade unions,” read the gazette notice.
“This notification to vacate office applies to all trade union officials holding either nominated or elective positions in any County Assembly or Parliament,” Kandie’s notice read.
On November 11, Sossion had issued a directive in his capacity as KNUT Secretary General asking the union Chairperson Mudzo Nzili and Vice Chairperson Samson Kaguma to proceed on terminal leave ahead of their retirement on May 16 and April 2, 2017, respectively.
In the letter, Sossion argued that it was paramount that the two exited the union since the union’s ADC in which their replacements were to be picked was approaching.
“Six months prior to the date of retirement, an officer is granted terminal leave pending retirement. At this point, the union must plan a by-election in the preceding ADC,” Sossion said
“Their positions shall be filled in a by-election during the 60th ADC. Wycliffe Etole Omucheyi shall assume office as the Acting National Chairman precisely on 16th November and preside over the 60th ADC,” Sossion ordered at the time.
He further directed that the matter is put to rest urging delegates preparing for the conference to focus on “critical issues” facing the membership of KNUT in pursuit of delivery of quality education.
However, despite Nzili’s silence on the matter, Sossion’s move was quickly put on hold by the Commissioner of labour in a letter dated November 14.
“In light of the above and having referred to article 18(c) of the union’s constitution, it would be unlawful to proceed with the planned by-elections scheduled for December 14, since the positions are not yet vacant,” the letter to Sossion read in part.
Interestingly, Nzili exited the union’s top ranks quietly paving way for the newly elected Chairperson, Omucheyi.
He was later, on April 18, named the Vice Chairperson of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.