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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 9 February 2015

BOARDROOM WARS ROCK TEACHERS MEDICAL SCHEME

Tender wars and boardroom battles are reasons behind the failure by Teachers Service Commission to implement a comprehensive medical cover for teachers in primary and secondary schools.
It all started in 2013 when Knut and Kuppet signed a return-to-work formula with the government. In the deal, the government was to provide comprehensive medical cover for teachers.
Sources in the know of the happenings surrounding the medical scheme saga reveal a detailed chronology of the events leading to the impasse.  In 2014 , TSC boss Gabriel Lengoibon, with the outspoken fire-chewing Knut secretary general  Wilson Sossion, allegedly secretly sourced for AoN Minet for the cover. In a bid to cover up, it is claimed, they invited officials of Knut to discuss the matter with Kuppet being kept in the dark of the goingson.
In April 2014, and in his effort to speed up the process, Sossion wrote to TSC calling on it to roll out the medical scheme initiated by TSC AoN Minet and of course Knut.
After the consultative meeting held on a Wednesday in April 2014 in the TSC boardroom, Sossion wrote to Lengoiboni on April 4 2014.
In the letter Sossion says: “During the TSC/KNUT consultative meeting held on April 2 2014, we agreed that TSC should fasttrack the following issues:-
(a)    Appointment letters of promotions of all backlog cases be written and released to the affected teachers immediately, (b) the registration of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers be effected by the TSC and funds to employ 25,000 teachers be sought from the Government,
(c) The proposed Medical Insurance Cover for teachers initiatied by the TSC, KNUT and the AoN Minet be fasttracked for immediate implementation.
Since we did not agree with you on the issue of promotions of diploma teachers from Kenya Management Institute (KEMI), we wish to inform you that the position of KNUT is that, these teachers deserve to be promoted as the commission had committed itself in their letter Ref No. TSC/D(s)/2012 dated 29th February, 2012 addressed to the Director of KEMI.
Please be informed that any breach of the contents of this letter would definitely call for industrial dispute which is not in our best of interest.
We therefore kindly remind you to honour your commitment and act accordingly.” The letter is signed by Wilson Sossion as Knut secretary-general.
Insiders say this was happening even as TSC boss was aware as the government body, it was to advertise for the expression of interest and settle on a firm after competitive sourcing. As things were, Sossion and Lengoiboni had allegedly resorted to single sourcing.
Lengoiboni’s move is said to have split those on TSC board of directors and commissioners.
The commissioners are Salome Gichura, Cleophas Tirop and Saadia Kontoma. The directors are Simon Kavisi director administration and other services, Nancy Macharia, director teacher management, Josephine Maundu, human resource and management, Cheptumo Ayabei, director finance, Francis Mwarucha acting director, Information Technology, Grace Ngure acting director accounts and Patrick Mangutu, acting internal auditor.
TSC commission chair is Lillian Nzomo who was kept out of the scheme has not been well briefed up to now.
It has also emerged that in the Knut, TSC and AoN Minet scheme, politics and battles between Knut and Kuppet emerged. To fix Kuppet, Knut sent a circular to its branches claiming they had bargained for a scheme that will only benefit Knut members and those who are not members will never benefit.
As a result, hundreds of teachers started defecting to Knut. Unaware of the move, Kuppet had discovered the ongoings and wrote to TSC. To cover up the process after Kuppet raised eyebrows, TSC had to create a gimmick. On July 3 2014, it advertised in Daily Nation requesting for expression of interest. What Lengoiboni and his backers at TSC failed to understand was that as per Sossion letter dated April 7 2014, he was calling for the AoN Minet, TSC and Knut Medical Insurance cover be fasttracked. Here TSC placed the advert in July 2014.
The July 2014 advertisement requesting for expression of interest calls for provision of an innovative and cost effective financing model and solution for healthcare provision for all teachers in the employment of the commission and their dependants countrywide.
On July 8 2014, Kuppet, after reading the advertisement, wrote a protest letter to TSC.
Part of the letter reads as follows:- “REF: Teachers’ Comprehensive Medical cover by AoN Minet.
Pursuant to the meetings held in various dates in December 2014 over the above between the unions, the TSC and the said company, we wish to state that the following components of the medical cover were never agreed upon:
(a)    The cost of the Biometric card
(b)    The name of the hospital for the beneficiaries was not revealed.
(c)    Call-pay amounting to Sh100 per person per visit.
Whereas Kuppet is not opposed to the medical cover, it would be unfair for teachers to lose close to Sh1 billion upfront before the actual treatment cost was included.
Kindly involve the stakeholders at every stage with respect to the actualisation of the scheme”. The letter is signed by Kuppet secretary-general Akelo Misori.
The scheme is to cost teachers Sh5.6 billion. In it, when a teacher goes to hospital, he has to pay Sh100. Then we have a call pay of Sh10 to verify if registered before services offered. To get a card, one will be charged Sh1200, comparing to other medical providers who charge on Sh200.
To complicate matters worse, those in the scheme have failed to disclose the hospitals teachers and up to six family members are to be treated. With all this preparations, fear is Sh2 billion will go towards biometric cards, call pay before the cost of medication is factored in.
It has also emerged that AoN Minet is just a brokerage firm in the deal since it does not give direct medical insurance. In the deal, it was to get Sh250 million.
Insiders say that Sossion is out to have the project kick off and as it was manifested when Knut and Kuppet met Christian bishops in Karen, Nairobi during the teachers strike period in January. He called on the bishops to force TSC implement the scheme. And with the scheme having stalled, come January 9 2015, Sossion again wrote to Lengoiboni stating.
“You are aware that you have undertaken to implement the teachers’ medical scheme and have been taken through the due process. We are under pressure from teachers to ensure that the scheme is implemented without any further delay.
We do not understand why you have gone dead silent about it yet:-
(1)    The due tender process has been concluded and the service provider approved and adopted at the committee of terms are required. Note that we further tabled it before the 57th Annual Delegate Conference (ADC) and was adopted by the delegates in December 9, 2014.
(2)    We have been fully involved as a key stake holder and are satisfied with the process.
(3)    The issues raised during negotiations were discussed and resolved.
Having fully gone through the due process, it is prudent for you to sign the contract since nobody has raised any complaints at all. We READ SABOTAGE in the delay of the scheme by you.
We hereby DEMAND that you forthwith sign the contract before we resume duties during the ongoing industrial action as there is no justification whatsoever in the delay”.
Sossion is bitter over the undercurrents at TSC concerning the scheme with camps proposing and opposing going for each others throat.
It is imperative to note, Sossion was on National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) board that issued contracts to dubious clinics that caused a furore in public.
For now, teachers have to wait longer to enjoy a medical scheme which would have rolled out in January this year.
To complicate matters, industry players have threatened to go to court and petition Public Procurement Oversight Authority if AoN Minet is awarded.