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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 16 November 2014

KNUT TREASURER'S CAMPAIGN SHAPES INTO A THREE-HORSE RACE

Borabu Knut branch executive secretary John Matiangi is galvanising support to clinch the national assistant treasurer’s post  which falls vacant in two months’ time. The seat is currently held by Richard Kibagendi who is going for retirement in December.
According to Knut rotational agreement, the seat should be retained in Kisii region where it has been since the 1980s when Bosco Mboga, Ochwangi Moronge and Fred Ontere were at the helm.
The vacancy has attracted four candidates from Kisii region including Matiangi, Sam Nyairo Gucha executive secretary, Margaret Obiri Knut woman rep Kisii County and former Knut branch chairman Geoffrey Mogire.
The seat is set to be hotly contested since the current national treasurer Albanus Mutisya is going to retire in less than two years, a move that will earn whoever will be his assistant an opportunity for elevation.
Matiangi who has served as executive secretary for Borabu for two terms prides in his experience and performance as key to his success in the race.
He tried for the same seat five years ago and narrowly lost to Kibagendi in the then hotly contested post with 800 against 900 delegates in the 110 branches countrywide.
Speaking to Weekly Citizen, Matiangi exuded confidence in taking the seat given the numbers he has mobilised above the 800 mark he managed earlier.
He said that he had convinced the delegates in all the 24 branches in the former Nyanza province.
But he has to contend with Gucha Knut branch executive secretary Nyairo who started early campaigns for the same seat.
Nyairo’s rallying call has been that since Kibagendi hails from Nyamira, the seat should automatically alternate to Kisii county as per the tradition. Kibagendi took over from Ontere who comes from Kisii county.
In an interview, Nyairo said that his support also straddles Nairobi where he briefly worked and served as the chairman for the national Mwalimu Sacco.
It is imperative to note that  Kisii county has more branches than Nyamira, Kisii include Gucha, Kisii South, Gucha South, Kisii Central and Masaba South while Nyamira has Nyamira, Borabu and Masaba branches.
Given the numbers, if Kisii delegates support Nyairo fully, he has a headstart but Matiangi seems to have been compensated with Western Kenya and North Rift where part his family stays.
On her part, Obiri, a newcomer compared to the trio of Matiangi, Nyairo and Mogire in teachers’ politics is banking on gender consideration to tilt the scales that representation from Kisii region to Knut national office has been tilted against women since time immemorial.
Apart from being confined to the Kisii South branch where she was elected as treasurer in 2008, she has an advantage of exposure to the larger Kisii county where she managed to convince delegates to vote her in as the woman rep in the Kisii Knut county branch.
She told Weekly Citizen that her five-year experience in trade union treasury endears her to the teachers.
But she has to convince the delegates at national level and regional levels whether she what it takes to clinch the position.
Looking at gender balance, she is the only lady from Nyanza region contended that the Clement Omollo Knut constitution review should be taken seriously.
The fourth candidate Mogire is banking on his political connections to deliver the seat.
At the same time, he distinguishes himself as the longest serving unionist in the area where he entered the fray in 1999 as the branch chairman for Kisii at the age of 27.
Mogire currently serves as the Nyanza delegate to the national council of the and hopes to utilise the former provincial network to win his regional block to aid his national bargain.
But a cross section of teachers  intimated that the Kisii regional preference is a two-horse scenario pitting Matiangi and Nyairo.
A teacher said both Matiangi and Nyairo have what it takes besides endearing themselves to teachers with a down-to-earth attitude.
Nyairo defeated Isaiah Nyariki his former boss in the larger Gucha Knut elections before having interest at the national level.
Obiri and Mogire hail from the Kisii South branch which means they should square it first from their home turf.
Kisii Central Knut executive secretary Nyaundi said he is not keen on the by-election which he lost by three votes.
Nyaundi balances all branches and whoever he supports from the area might carry the day for he has the ear of the delegates.
The trio if defeated can still serve in the current positions they hold but Mogire looks disadvantaged with the post due to his position as a member of the NEC.
Kuria Njau, a NEC member from Nakuru soon to turn 63 years insists to remain in the office but he should follow his suit by his agemates and retire to pave way for others.
The four candidates appealed to the delegates to check the characters of each and pick a unionist to serve the interest of teachers.