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Agony of retired teachers seeking Sh42bn pension

Wednesday January 2 2019


Retired Teachers 1997 Group chairman Gidraff Kimatta addresses journalists outside Nakuru Hugh Court concerning their pension, July 31, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Blame games, disobedience of court orders and numerous adjournments is what has characterised the over 18 years-long court case by 52,000 retired teachers seeking Sh42.3 billion salary and pension arrears.

The former teachers, under Retired Teachers 1997 Group, say the government has been playing games with them in their efforts to get the money which was awarded to them by the court in 2008.

Their unpaid dues have been accruing interest at the rate of 14 per cent per annum since the initial judgement was made by Justice David Maraga on October 23, 2008 against the Teachers Service Commission.

The fight for their pension has been one that is bruising and deadly. More than 2,000 members have since died without tasting the fruits of their labour.

The former teachers have exhausted all legal avenues that blocked the payments having won all cases filed by TSC.


When they resolved to move to court they were still strong, energetic and ambitious after having just left the classroom two or three years back.

However, after 18 years of a vicious court battle, things are now different as the retirees have become frail, sickly and are on the verge of losing hope. Majority are in their late 70s and 80s.

It all began when the government failed to honour the 1998 agreement between the TSC and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) following successful negotiations.

The agreement involved paying all teachers who were serving and those who were on leave pending retirement from July 1, 1997 – a lump sum pay over and above their monthly salaries.

However, the government failed to honour the deal leading to the legal showdown.


The standoff seemed to have been nearing an end in 2008 when Justice Maraga, then the High Court judge in Nakuru, pronounced himself on the case ruling in favour of the ex-teachers.

Justice Maraga noted that all teachers were entitled to full pay increment at the time of their retirement.

He further ordered TSC and pensions department to pay all retired teachers covered by the 1997 deal their full benefits.

But the payment was delayed by subsequent appeals by the TSC.

The Supreme Court however confirmed Justice Maraga's judgement in 2015, taking the TSC and pensions department to task.

Surprisingly, three years later the ex-teachers were still in court chasing the money after it failed to reach their accounts.


Neither the numerous court orders nor the punishment of government officials has been able to solve the problem.

For instance, the courts on several occasions ordered the two agencies to pay the retirees but each time the case was mentioned the report on the compliance of the orders was always negative.

In August 2016, Nakuru High Court judge Janet Mulwa ordered director of pensions Shem Nyakutu to release Sh1.5 billion that had been approved by the National Assembly towards the settlement of part of the total amount within 30 days.

The court was later informed that the money was not paid.

Similar orders were made on August 1, 2018 directing Mr Nyakutu to file a comprehensive report showing the status update on the payment and produce a list of the claimants paid.


This was after the retirees accused him of misleading the court by supplying a list of names with glaring irregularities which he claimed to have cleared payment.

The pensions boss is among the government officers who have found themselves in court standing on the dock to respond to questions regarding compliance with the orders.

Others who have appeared in court are TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia, her predecessor Gabriel Lengoiboni and the Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo.

Ms Macharia and Ms Odhiambo shifted the blame to the pensions office after claiming to have complied on their parts.

Ms Macharia said her office had processed more than 25,000 claims which they have forwarded to the pensions office for payment.


Ms Odhiambo - who appeared in court on October 25, 2016 - denied claims by the pensions director that her office had refused to approve the claims for payment.

Mr Nyakutu was fined Sh200,000 after the court found him guilty of contempt.

As the counsels passionately exhibit their prowess in defending their bosses in court, their former teachers continue to wallow in misery.

Mr George Khahi Kibidi, 77, who retired in 1997, says he has been reduced to a beggar.

“We used to be respectable members of the society but what is happening now is really unfair. Our own students playing circus with our retirement benefits,” Mr Khahi said.

Retired Teachers 1997 Group chairman Gidraff Kimatta is nonetheless optimistic that 2019 will be a fruitful year compared to 2018 that had numerous adjournments.

“We will appreciate when this matter is solved for once so that the teachers can spend their sunset days in peace,” he said.