Kenya’s opposition Orange Democratic Movement submitted a motion in parliament to impeach President Uhuru Kenyatta over his handling of a teachers strike.
“I’ve submitted a motion to impeach the president,” ODM Chairman John Mbadi is quoted by Bloomberg News telling supporters at a rally in the capital, Nairobi.
Kenyan teachers have been on strike since Aug. 31 over the government’s refusal to raise their wages. The country’s Industrial Court awarded teachers’ pay increases of as much as 60 percent last month, a ruling that the government has appealed in the Supreme Court.
To succeed, the impeachment motion would require a two-thirds majority vote in the National Assembly, where Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee Alliance holds 167 of the 349 seats.
CORD dresses in uniforms to back teachers’ strike
Opposition chiefs Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka announced Wednesday to lead the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) in a rally in solidarity with the striking teachers.
The Opposition leaders and their followers selected Uhuru Park for the meeting meant to pile pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee administration to implement the teachers’ salary hike awarded by the Industrial Court in July, this year.
According to Standard Digital Kenya, the leaders gathered to reinforce their message that the 50-60 per cent salary award is payable, contrary to his statements that the economy cannot sustain the growing public wage bill.
CORD’s Management Committee Co-Chair Johnstone Muthama, who is also Machakos Senator, is quoted saying today’s event is not a political rally but an engagement with teachers, parents and the public on the effects of the ongoing teacher’s strike that entered its third week on Monday.
Muthama also took a swipe at President Kenyatta’s refusal to pay teachers, terming it a disrespect to the rule of law.
Kenyatta fights back, unsuccessfully
Kenyatta on Sunday urged teachers who have been on strike for about three weeks to return to work, saying their demand for a pay rise of up to 60 percent could not be met.
He is quoted by Reuters saying the state wage bill already accounted for more than 50 percent of budget spending and hiking teachers’ pay by that amount would require raising taxes, borrowing more or cutting development spending.
“None of these options is tenable. Our country must live within its means,” he said in an address broadcast on radio and television, adding that steps such as tax hikes or more borrowing would drive up inflation and slow the economy.
“Frankly, it is wrong to hold our children hostage to wage demands,” he said, adding teachers’ salaries had been raised in recent years to match those of other civil servants and a further increase would mean other wages would have to rise too.
A Kenyan labour court will decide on September 25 on the legality of a teachers’ strike.
Teachers argued that Kenya’s governments have failed to deliver on a deal reached in 1997 to raise pay.
Kenyatta dismissed this, saying that deal had been met and Kenyan teachers’ pay was higher than others in the region.
Meanwhile, Muthama too dismissed the President’s address to the nation, arguing that it failed to offer a solution to the salary dispute that has paralysed learning in all public schools.
At the same time, Nairobi County Commander Japheth Koome Tuesday warned politicians against using inciting language during the event as he assured them of adequate security.