By Johnstone Muthama & James Orengo
Our attention has been drawn to the grand standing of the jubilee regime and their shear indifference to the plight of thousands of Kenyan teachers. The current stand-off emanating from a decree of the Industrial relations court directing the government to effect a pay increment of between 50% – 60% to teachers clearly demonstrates the warped priorities of the fledging jubilee regime.
It must be remembered that it is the government through the Teachers Service Commission that rushed to the Industrial court under its tired and misplaced strategy of declaring the teachers strike illegal. Unbeknown to the jubilee regime that is accustomed to legal shortcuts and manipulation of lawful processes, the reformed industrial court proceeded to hear the case to conclusion and after a careful consideration of arguments including from economic and finance policy think tanks, the court rendered a historical decision awarding the teachers their long sought basic salary increment backdated to July 1st 2013.
All this time, the jubilee regime invested massively in its cherished policy of flagrant plunder of public resources. While at it, massive resources were committed to shady deals driven by government sanctioned cartels. The assertions from the treasury cabinet secretary that the government has no money to pay teachers smack of unprecedented impunity and gross contempt for our teachers.
The baby cries from jubilee that it has no resources to effect the pay hike sound hollow in the face of sustained graft that is now part of the jubilee regime trademark. A catalogue of financial scandals in the jubilee regime indicates the following;
- The auditor general report for the fiscal year 2013/2014 reveals that;
- Kshs67B cannot be accounted for.
- Kshs200B from the Sovereign bond was deposited in an offshore account contrary to article 206 of the constitution and section 17(2) of the public finance management Act and the same has been spend without the approval of the controller of budget.
- The president unilaterally authorized payment of kshs4.1B to the shadowy Anglo leasing type company without the approval of either the controller of budget or parliament.
- Inflation of the construction costs of the standard gauge railway from kshs220B to kshs327B. Despite public outcry on this monumental scandal, the Jubilee regime applied executive fiat and rammed it down the throats of Kenyans.
- The award of Kshs15B CCTV security tender to Safaricom through single sourcing at the insistence of the presidency.
In the face of this unprecedented corruption, we do not subscribe to the view that the state has no money to pay teachers.
If there is enough money to fund scandals, then inevitably there must be enough money to pay our most hard working teachers who continue to languish in poverty while bellying government top officials continue to live lavishly on the plunder of public resources.
Further the state has options to utilize the Kshs 1 billion that had been allocated to the senate for oversight purposes as well as the Kshs 1 billion that was allocated to the two parliamentary committees for other functions that are not necessarily of priority in the circumstances.
In lieu of the above facts, we demand the immediate settlement of the teacherâ€™s salary increment as decreed by the Industrial court on 30/06/2015, the subsequent concurrent orders of the Court of Appeal on 23/07/2015 and the affirming orders of the Supreme Court on 24/08/2015.
The government is the guarantor and custodian of the rule of law in the country and such must faithfully comply with the orders of the court.
It is cynical for the jubilee regime to continue dancing in circles on a matter that court has settled.
We reject the hollow proposition that the state may be forced to increase taxes to fund the teachersâ€™ salary increment.
If the president has any conscience left, he must cut down on his unwarranted foreign trips that continue to choke public resources with little returns if any. The argument by the Teachers Service Commission that teachers strike is illegal due to the pendency of an appeal at the Court of Appeal clearly demonstrates an institution that is not just out of depth but also out of sync with the dictates of the law.
It speaks volumes that TSC cannot even comprehend orders emanating from its own appeal. In its considered ruling, the Court of Appeal decreed that failure to comply with its orders of 23/07/2015 will automatically lead to the collapse of the TSC appeal.
In the circumstances, there is no appeal pending before the appellate court and as such, TSC has only one option, pay the teachers or face an industrial action.
In this very important matter, we choose to stand on the right side of history. We choose to stand with the teachers of this nation. The state must give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
Senators Muthama and Orengo co-chairs the CORD Management Committee.