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New Faces Emerge in Knut Poll

The Nation (Nairobi), Sunday 15 April 2001

Jostling for posts at the branch level of the teachers union continued yesterday with many new faces joining the union leadership.

Although the elections have been peaceful in many districts, others were characterised by claims of bribery, fighting and other irregularities.

In other districts, such as Nyandarua, the polls were postponed and the Kenya National Union of Teachers national vice-treasurer, Mr Fred Ontere, said a new date would have to be fixed. Mr Ontere oversaw the failed elections.

The branch elections are spread over this and next month and will climax in late June when the national officials are to be elected.

However, no radical changes are expected at the national executive level as the deputy secretary general, Mr Francis Ng'ang'a, is expected to easily fill the secretary general's job previously held by the late Ambrose Adeya Adongo.

The national chairman, Mr John Katumanga, is expected to successfully defend his seat while the national assistant secretary general, Mr Lawrence Majali, is also tipped to retain his.

There are also allegations of a plot to split the union by some powerful forces.

These claims were made by Mr Katumanga who warned the teachers to reject the move.

Mr Katumanga, who was accompanied by national vice-chairman Joseph Chirchir said those elected must risk their lives to serve teachers.

The two were addressing teachers at Kipchoge Keino stadium in Kapsabet after attending Nandi Knut elections.

In Machakos, at least two people were hurt during the elections which later aborted.

The two were attacked when angry teachers set upon a group which stormed the Machakos Technical Training Institute, the venue of the elections and attacked polling clerks and scattered ballot papers on the floor.

Mr Ng'ang'a and Mr Katumanga were caught in the melee and forced to walk out of the charged venue.

However, the polling was peaceful in both Makueni and Mwingi districts. In Makueni all the officials were swept back to office while in Mwingi the old officials were removed.

In Kiambu, aspirants have written to the District Labour Officer demanding to be provided with independent observers during the forthcoming elections.

They have also written to the District Commissioner requesting for security saying that the current office bearers had threatened to harm them during the elections scheduled for Saturday.

The group led by Mr Clement Gitau, who is aspiring for the chairmanship told the DC that the branch officials had embezzled Sh5 million belonging to the branch during the last financial year

A financial statement made available to the Nation indicated that the branch received Sh7,949,361 during the financial year 1999/2000 from the KNUT headquarters but during the Annual General Meeting the officials presented a statement indicating that they had received Sh3,910,836.

However the branch assistant treasurer Samuel Wambugu said that all the allegations levelled against their team were untrue.

But Mr Wambugu could not explain the Sh5 million difference for 1999/2000 financial year. He said: "I will not comment on that. The documents pertaining to the branch finances are under lock and key."

Pressed to give the figure received from KNUT headquarters during the year in question the treasurer said that he could not recall the amount.

Copyright 2001 The Nation. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).