Labour ministry bars Knut from replacing Mudzo Nzili

Tuesday November 14 2017

Knut Chairman Mudzo Nzili

Knut Chairman Mudzo Nzili at a past event. Mr Nzili and his vice-chairman Samson Kaguma were served with retirement letters by Secretary-General Wilson Sossion. FILE PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

More by this Author
More by this Author

Embattled Kenya National Union of Teachers chairman Mudzo Nzili on Tuesday got a lifeline after the Labour ministry stopped his ouster.

His deputy, Mr Samson Kaguma, was also allowed to continue serving until he attains the mandatory retirement age of 60.

The two had been granted six months mandatory terminal leave last week by secretary-general Wilson Sossion prior to their retirement in 2018.

Mr Kaguma will retire on April 2 and Mr Nzili on May 16 next year.

In a letter to Mr Sossion dated November 14, Ms Hellen Apiyo, on behalf of the labour commissioner, said the ministry had received objections from the two, who said they are yet to reach the mandatory retirement age of 60 stipulated by the union’s constitution.

“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 commissioner said.

Knut was directed to seek further details on the matter from the Registrar of Trade Unions.

Mr Wickliffe Omucheyi had been appointed on Sunday to replace Mr Nzili.

Mr Sossion, who is in Mombasa for the union’s national executive meeting ahead of the annual delegates conference, criticised the decision.

“The Ministry of Labour cannot purport to run a trade union. The union must be allowed to engage in its activities within its constitution,” Mr Sossion said.

He said the first port of call for any complaint by a union official is the leadership of the organisation.

“You cannot petition the government to defend you,” he added.

Mr Sossion said the issue will be presented to the 44-member National Executive Council (NEC) for directions.

Trouble at the union started on November 7, when Mr Nzili wrote to Mr Sossion, asking him to vacate office following his nomination as Orange party MP in August.

In Mombasa, the NEC has started its four-day retreat to set the agenda for the 60th annual delegates conference that will run from December 13 to 15.

In the coastal town, Mr Sossion and Mr Nzili put a brave face, insisting that there were no wrangles in the union.

“There is no fighting. There are no wrangles. It’s just a meeting,” Mr Sossion told journalists.

“We have nice things for teachers. I will talk about the issue of resigning at the appropriate time. I will be at the Coast for four days,” the trade unionist said, as he walked hand-in-hand with Mr Nzili.

However, Knut’s Coast branch executive secretary Tom Kitu Gwengwele said the union would take legal action against the MP if he refuses to quit.