Jostling for the leadership of the giant teachers’ union started on Thursday as its secretary-general called it a day after nearly seven years.
And as Mr Francis Ng’ang’a announced his retirement, a group of Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) members from three Nairobi branches stormed his office demanding elections so that they can take part in electing his successor in December.
Mr Ng’ang’a has retired after attaining the age of 60, as provided in the union’s rules. He handed over the mantle to deputy secretary-general Lawrence Majale, who will serve in an acting capacity until December, when the national delegates conference is expected to pick Mr Ng’ang’a’s replacement.
Mr Ng’ang’a also quit the post of secretary-general of the Federation of East African Teachers’ Union (FEATU).
The Nairobi teachers expressed discontent with their national union over election of branch officials. They stormed the Knut headquarters and demanded audience with Mr Ng’ang’a.
“We want Mr Ng’ang’a to assign an election date for the three Nairobi districts,” said the group’s spokesman, Mr Macharia Mugwe.
In a letter, the teachers said they were unhappy with Knut’s decision to delay elections in Nairobi Province while polls were already taking place in other areas where new districts had been formed.
They said the move would hamper their participation in the December AGM.
Mr Ng’ang’a, who ventured into trade unionism in 1977 as an official of the Nairobi branch of Knut, was elected to serve as the third secretary-general of the 51-year-old union in 2001 following the death of Mr Ambrose Adongo.
He was re-elected in 2006.
Before his elevation he served for eight years as Adongo’s deputy.
A year after assuming office, Mr Ng’ang’a led teachers in a month-long strike demanding the implementation of a 1997 pay deal.
The strike, which brought learning in public institutions to a standstill, was in response to the Kanu Government’s attempts to back-track on its promise to pay the teachers a 200 per cent salary raise.
The strike was only called off after the Government gave in and committed to pay the increment in 10 phases.