Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Open Appeal to President Kibaki on the UASU Strike

From: Onyango Oloo
Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 8:29 AM
To: ''
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Subject: Open Appeal to President Mwai Kibaki on the UASU Strike

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces

His Excellency The Hon. Mwai Kibaki C.G.H., M.P.

Harambee House, Harambee Avenue

P.O. Box 30510, Nairobi

Tel. 02 227411

Telegrams: "RAIS"


Dear President:

My name is Onyango Oloo and I am a Kenyan living here in Nairobi.

I write to you with the utmost concern at the manner your government is handling the ongoing strike called by members of the University Academic Staff Union.

According to information I just gleaned this evening (Wednesday, October 25, 2006) from the state-run Kenya Broadcasting Corporation web site:

“…The Universities Academic Staff union- UASU, leadership has suffered a major blow after key union officials including the National Chairman Dr. Sammy Kubasu and Secretary general Muga K'Olale and four others were sacked. In Kenyatta University, UASU Chairman Joseph Kinyanjui and Secretary Richard Wafula were dismissed. Twenty lecturers have also been suspended for boycotting classes at the university…”


This callous act of intimidation flies in the face of pronouncements by leading government officials that your administration has expanded the democratic space since NARC came to power four years ago. The draconian methods employed to quell the justified job action smack more of the strong arm tactics of the Moi-KANU dictatorship.

I appeal to you to intervene directly at your earliest discretion to avert an even deeper national crisis.

History has proved over and over and over again that state intimidation, malicious prosecutions, kangaroo courts and unfair jail terms can never thwart those who resolutely fight for democratic and human rights.

Workers in this country have a right to a living wage and decent work conditions. Workers in this country deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Most civilized and democratic societies recognize the long cherished right for workers to strike, as a weapon for safeguarding their labour rights.

Members of the University Academic Staff Union have clearly delineated their concerns. They have appealed for structured discussions, open dialogue and principled negotiations in trying to resolve their claims for better pay and better working conditions.

Your minister in charge of labour, Dr. Newton Kulundu has arrogantly decided to use fascist methods to try and break the back of the UASU strike. Today the various universities have followed suit by firing the duly elected representatives of the University Academic Staff Union.

Dear President, members of the University Academic Staff Union provide very crucial services to this nation. Without them, the future of this country hangs on a precipice.

They do deserve better pay than they are currently earning.

They do deserve to be listened to.

Most likely the majority of them voted for this very government of yours that is today treating them as crooks and terrorists.

Dear President, the measures that are being taken to thwart the demands of the UASU are likely to back fire.

One of the most immediate consequences will be to worsen the brain drain which will see many of Kenya’s best and brightest academics and professionals flee the country to seek greener pastures abroad. This is a gross misallocation of scarce national resources, not just in terms of lost human resources, but the squandered taxes and resources used up in developing their academic potential and skills through decades of education and training. It is like a self-inflicted national wound.

Dear President, you were elected with a huge popular mandate to deepen the tenets of democracy, entrench a human rights culture and promote national harmony in Kenya. Many of the people who elected you did so precisely because they expected you to turn a new page and close the chapter on state harassment.

As you well know, the UASU suffered very much under the previous regime.

Dr. Kilemi Mwiria, who now serves your government as the assistant minister in charge of education was, not too long ago, the Secretary General of the very same University Academic Staff Union. Is there any twinge in his conscience when he witnesses how his own government is treating his successor in the same post?

Dear President:

Let me end my letter by appealing to you to exercise leadership by directly intervening to restore a sense of sanity in the way your government is dealing with the UASU crisis.

It is my hope, for the sake of peace, democracy, civility, justice and stability in this country that you will do the right thing for Kenya.


Onyango Oloo

Nairobi, Kenya


Anonymous said...

kenyan lecturers are the best paid in the region and worst performing academic staff, according to a global university survey published recently. the same survey ranked dar-es-salaam and makerere university as one of the top institutions in africa.

kenyans should demand more of their academic staff before being squeezed of more tax shillings to pay for poor or non performing academics. state institutions should implement service contracts with each lecturer and stipulate therein performance clauses, as it is universally done at other insitutions of higher learning.

let the industrial arbitration take its course. the lecturers jumped the negotiation gun and acted in bad faith. they deserve the sack!

Anonymous said...

i think this whole thing has been mishandled -i think we should take advantage of the situation fora to give lecturers a decent pay and 2. to remove lecturers from the management of the universities and instead leave this to professional managers(that does not mean lecturers will not be involved in management)in oredre to concentrate on their core responsibilty of teaching and research. and btw teaching is not dictating notes from a book (that the first thing that strikes u about teaching when u leave kenya. whats with dictation at i even in med school they dictate anatomy).

also i think the professors lack some sympathy esp from those who have been victims of sex for grades and other shenanigans. or getting your final paper or grades 'lost' hence missing graduation for a year.

Kenya Democracy Project said...

thanks for the comments above.

you know, i have heard, seen and read many commentators who are opposed to the UASU strike cite the issue of productivity as a ruse to shut down the arguments of the lecturers.

by the same token, how many cases has ringera successfully brought to a close to justify his multi-million salary and outrageous perks?

what is the level of productivity of kulundu, wekesa or any other minister/assistant minister/mp to justify their sky high pay?

on the other hand, can we really begin to quantify what teachers and lecturers add in terms of value? how many of the critics berating the lecturers were once the students of the very same lecturers?

but that is NOT even the point.

what some of us are trying to say is that using outmoded, colonial era fascist tactics to deal with labour grievances is not only an insult but helps to polarize our already conflicted society even further.

some of us are saying that it is extremely hypocritical for NARC to continue touting its invisible democratic credentials and tooting its horn claiming to have increased democratic space in the face of the callous treatment against hawkers, workers and squatters.

some of us are saying that there are civil, humane and democratic alternatives to the embarrassing thuggish mentality of the forces who naively think that resistance to exploitation and injustice can be crushed by the swing of a rungu, the kick of a boot or the lobbing of a tear gas canister.

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya

Anonymous said...

Keep the president out of this

Everybody deserves a good pay. The way Onyango put it; it is like the president is preventing dons from getting a better deal.

Proponents of separation of power and democracy argue that the president should not micro-manage the country. What Onyango is advocating for is that the president should micro manage the country.

Kenya has ministers and PSs. She has trade unions, arbitrators and courts. Why then should we call on the president to intervene?

Somebody once suggested that Kenyans are in love with dictatorship. They want a president: who cuts deals with hawkers in the street; who orders people to be arrested and charged; who directly dishes out money to locations and sub-locations; etc!

We should strive to build institutions. Putting all our hopes on one man is our undoing.

NB: Did you notice that the Directorate of Civil Aviation has cracked the whip on government agencies that rent out their planes? We want more agencies that act independent of political manipulation.

Msema Kweli

Kenya Democracy Project said...

Msema Kweli

Are you talking about the SAME President who only yesterday was pontificating on hawkers and where they should be located? The same President who makes it HIS JOB to issue title deeds? The same President who considers HIS DUTY to travel all the way to Nakuru to cheer on a NARC-K candidate in a by-election?

Make up you mind.

More importantly, live up to the MEANING of your handle.

When we are appealing to the INSTITUTION of the Presidency (something that would be clear if you had actually READ what I wrote before dashing to respond) we are invoking our national values, our democratic aspirations and our expectations of a government that was SUPPOSED to be the TOTAL ANTITHESIS of the regime it replaced.

In any case, there is an inherent contradiction in saying "keep the president out of this" and supporting that political tendency which insists on an executive president. you cannot have your cake and eat it you know. More than that, if this matter blows up because of the goofy and looney decisions of a couple of ministers, guess who is left with the buck?

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya Democracy Project said...

To browsers, surfers, bloggers, friends and visitors to the Kenya Democracy Project:

The Nairobi dailies have carried the letter in varying forms.

First,(and thanks) Kenya Times of Friday, October 28, 2006 has carried the letter verbatim as you can see from this

Secondly,(and thanks as well)the Standard of the same date has heavily edited and shortened the piece, ending with this version...

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya

Anonymous said...

This must be a milestone event in this fellows attention seeking attempts. Whats the big deal with the papers publishing this letter? I see another hundreds of letters published daily. Why should one be getting all orgasmic about such a normal thing? Will he take credit for the decisions to re-instate the sacked lecturers? This goes to prove one point. OO is the old school kind of thinker. He is stuck in the 70's and 80's together with koigi wa mwere and a few others who think that the president should have the final authority on everything. Thats why they would rather run crying foul to the President whenever anything happens. It is this very same people who empower the presidency so much that it becomes impossible to have a democracy in the first place. It is just a common reflex that the president has the solutions to everything and the final authority. I would like to dismiss this letter as a cheap ploy by someone trying by all means to get some evasive attention. A few years ago, Koigi wa mwere was quoted saying "Serikali ni ya kibaki". And that is the same mentality that the author of this article has.
OO, you need to style up and think real democracy. Please stop with this nonsense of yours and take time to learn. It is a pain to see how the very same people who claim to democracy champions constantly play double standards when it suits them.
But then again, its good to let sleeping dogs lie.

Anonymous said...

Mkufunzi forget that garbage of our lecturers being the best paid. How ever i agree that our lecturers have turned into monsters demanding unrealistic pay rise not commensurate to the work just as the fools we call MP's; Most of them such as 80% of those in Physics department in Chiromo fail students from other tribes from their own and never view students as customers whose success could be a good measure of the quality education they provide.

I feel deep pain for students from poor families whose graduation will be delayed further, some like graduate students don't have jobs and every idle time in the city is a waste of money.

Our lecturers deserve pay rise but their bigotry and twisted conduct should change.Universities should also do more evaluation on the quality of education more than 2/3 of graduates are functionally illiterate no wonder most of them are touts and now becoming hawkers.

Kenya Democracy Project said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kenya Democracy Project said...

Message for "David Kihara" and "kip":

Thank you very much for your comments.

To "David Kihara":

Please, I beg you, if you do NOT have ANYTHING OF SUBSTANCE to contribute in terms of comments, can you do me a favour and desist from VOMITING in this blog with your uncalled for personal jibes?

It is interesting that you come dashing to post your odious comments while at the same belittling the very article you are responding to as ineffectual.

Yes, it was A BIG DEAL that both papers carried the letter-and made it the main letter complete with pictures and so on. That means that apart from this blog entry, Kenyans across the country who do not have access to the internet, but can read the above named dailies had a chance to get my message from all corners of the republic . I have already got very positive feedback from diverse geographical and political quarters.

I wonder what Koigi's name is doing in your unhinged response.

By the way, I do not know how much you really know about the 70s and 80s.

IF it is "old fashioned" to speak out against blatant infractions, then Onyango Oloo is indeed outmoded; if it is old hat to defend people struggling for their rights, then Onyango Oloo is a throwback to a long by- gone eon.

History does not and will never the fence sitters, the online trash talkers and the sycophants servicing the status quo.

Throughout history, those who have the courage to speak truth to power have always been a handful who do not look over their shoulders to see who is cheering them on.


Thanks for your input, but a couple of maswali for thee:

1. How "unrealistic" are the lecturers' demands around pay? Is the remuneration package for ministers, their assistants and mps "more realistic"? Is Ringera's pay "more realistic"? What on earth are you yakking about?

2. How have the lecturers displayed the "bigotry" that you charge them with?

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya

Anonymous said...

I am doing a project on child poverty in kenya do u have any info?

Kenya Democracy Project said...


Regarding your querry above, i have an answer below:

google is your friend, pal.

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya

Anonymous said...

Which came first, an egg or a chicken? That is the game between UASU officials and the university management. UASU NEC will not call off the strike before their members are reinstated and a offer is place on the table. The University management will not reinstate or table anything until the strike is called off. Since the negotiators are already sacked, the have nothing to gain by calling off the strike. The stalemate has no solution within the neighborhood and so we need intervention from above!

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