Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) leaders have vowed to rally their supporters to block Harambee Avenue — where the presidency has its offices — every Tuesday until teachers’ pay demands are met.
The Opposition leaders also unveiled an M-Pesa account through which the public can donate money to the “Teachers Solidarity Account”.
They said the money would be used to sustain the strike, which started on September 2, and ensure that the teachers are not intimidated into resuming work.
Both Orange Democratic Movement party leader Raila Odinga and Wiper Democratic Party’s Kalonzo Musyoka said at the Uhuru Park rally that they had donated Sh100,000 each to the account.
They invited Kenyans from all walks of life to donate “even if it meant Sh50”, to show solidarity with the teachers.
Mr Odinga said the till number, 672672, would be up and running from Thursday.
Opposition leaders who spoke at the rally threatened to press on with a Motion to impeach the President for failing to implement the 50-60 per cent pay rise for teachers. They also accused him of failing to uphold the Constitution.
Mr Odinga said the government could afford the Sh17 billion needed to pay teachers the first tranche of the pay rise awarded by the Court of Appeal.
NEGOTIATE WITH TEACHERS
He said that in the last year of the Grand Coalition Government, in which he was Prime Minister, Kenya’s tax revenue was Sh807 billion, while in the last financial year, this had increased to Sh1.16 trillion and was projected to hit Sh1.25 trillion this financial year.
“This year’s revenue budget is Sh443 billion more than that of the last Grand Coalition Government. We can afford Sh17 billion for teachers,” Mr Odinga said.
He said the government had not been honest in the figures it had given showing that the wage bill had risen unsustainably.
“Even if we add county governments and parastatals, the figures tell a different story from the one the Jubilee government is peddling,” he told the rally.
According to him, the Sh568 billion — or 52 per cent of revenue — that President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday said used to pay salaries was not correct.
“Our public wage bill is only 32 per cent of revenue. This is below the global average of 35 per cent for middle income countries,” Mr Odinag said.
“The President should negotiate with the teachers instead of telling them that he can’t pay, won’t pay,” he said.
He also criticised the President for shielding Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru from blame over the National Youth Service corruption scandal, even though she had admitted that money had been stolen from the accounts.
ODM Chairman John Mbadi said he had filed the notice of the impeachment Motion with the Clerk of the National Assembly.
However, Cord does not have enough MPs to impeach the President unless Jubilee members rebel against their parties.
Mr Musyoka made the announcement that opposition supporters would block the President from his Harambee Avenue office every Tuesday.
“We are announcing that starting next Tuesday and every other Tuesday that the President will not have paid the teachers the salaries that they are demanding, we will occupy Harambee Avenue,” he said.
Mr Musyoka said that by ordering all schools closed and denying children education, the government had committed a crime worse than terrorism because education was a basic right under the Constitution.
More than 30 MPs and senators and dozens of members of the county assemblies attended the meeting.
Many of the MPs wore school uniforms, perhaps to highlight the plight of learners, who had been forced to return home barely a month after schools reopened for the third term.
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua asked the government to respect teachers’ demands and grant them their rights. She said the country had the money to pay the teachers if corruption and mismanagement of public funds were dealt with.
She said the government should look after the welfare of all Kenyans and not a few, saying it should not operate as if there was no Constitution.
She warned that Kenyans were watching and would send the leadership home come the 2017 elections.
Others who spoke included Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, all dwelling on the closure of schools and corruption in government.
They also accused the President of shielding Ms Waiguru from corruption investigations.
Jubilee MPs reacted angrily to the Cord rally, saying it had nothing to do with the teachers’ strike but was meant to incite Kenyans against the government.
The lawmakers who spoke at Parliamentary Buildings dismissed the proposal to collect funds for teachers as a strategy to raise funds for Mr Odinga’s 2017 presidential campaigns.
TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja said it was unfortunate that the Cord leaders had demonstrated that they were still stuck in the politics of populism and insults as opposed to offering alternative leadership.
“Cord has displayed once again an excruciating poverty of ideas. The rally has emitted more heat than light and has not provided any solution to the crisis,” he said. “They have shed crocodile tears. They were using this forum for politics, which will fail miserably,” Mr Sakaja said.
The MPs faulted their Opposition counterparts for using the rally to criticise the President and Ms Waiguru.
Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru said: “They have no direction and we shall face them head on. We need leaders of integrity.”
Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu appealed to teachers to heed the President’s call and resume work instead of allowing the matter to take a political direction.
Jubilee women legislators demanded an apology from the Cord leadership saying it was improper for some of them to attack Ms Waiguru.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega said law enforcers should investigate some of the leaders and hold them responsible for the divisive utterances they made.
“The teachers salary was not the issue but politics meant to cause civil strife in the country. The law should apply equally to all Kenyans,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy President William Ruto, appealed to all relevant stakeholders involved in resolving the teachers’ strike to consider the nation’s interests and those of children.
Speaking in Masinga, Machakos County, he said personal and other interests should not be allowed to compromise or override the interests of children, who are the future of this nation.
“We can campaign for whatever position we want; the bottom line is we must put the interest of the nation before our individual requirements,” he said. “We must subordinate our personal interests to the greater interests of our nation.”
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