The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) the official opposition outfit in Kenya may have had squandered an opportune time to redeem a floundering image when the leaders congregated at Uhuru Park in support of teachers.
The coalition has time and again maintained that it is pushing the government to obey the Constitution and govern democratically. This, to some extent, has worked with the government ceding ground but on several occasions, there have been many political faux pas moments and last week Wednesday’s rally was no exception.
Cord leadership had called for the meeting, which was meant to pile pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration to pay teachers’ their salary hike. The pay rise was awarded by the Industrial Court in July, this year.
And to make their support noticeable, some MPs from the coalition dressed in school uniforms.
However, what happened at the park has been dismissed as anything but support for the teachers. In addition, Kenyans on social media, both pro and against the coalition say that the party may have lost a big vote constituency.
Cord leader Raila Odinga, in the televised event said,
“Our teachers have demanded a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Our courts have agreed they deserve it, they must have it. President Uhuru Kenyatta says, Can’t pay, Won’t Pay.”
“Our children find themselves at the right place, at the wrong time; at home in September and not in school as is tradition. The times demand that we speak candidly and decisively, truthfully and frankly, honestly and boldly. President Kenyatta is lying to Kenyans about our wage bill. The President is dishonest in his refusal to pay teachers.”
The speech was all good and making sense until the leaders proposed a means to raise money to pay teachers. Civil rights activist Boniface Mwangi was of the opinion that the proposal was misplaced.
— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) September 23, 2015
And the comments that followed were not entirely kind to the coalition’s leadership. Oliver Mathenge thought that Cord was being insincere in criticizing the government but not addressing the problem in a practical manner.
You tell Jubilee leaders (read Ruto) to stop Harambees then announce a fundraising Paybill number. For this and other joke sms “Cord” to…. — Oliver Mathenge™ (@OliverMathenge) September 23, 2015
According to Raila, this year’s revenue budget is Sh443 billion more than that of the last Grand Coalition Government revenue.
The former PM criticized the government for saying that it could not afford to pay teachers Sh17 billion despite a revenue increase of Sh443 billion which is an equivalent of 55 per cent from the 2012-2013 revenues.
“The published budget for government wage bill for the current financial year is Sh329 billion, out of a recurrent budget of Sh987 billion and total budget of Sh1.88 trillion. This works out to 33 per cent of recurrent, 17.5 per cent of total budget and 26 per cent of revenue. Even if we add county government and parastatals, the figures tell a different story from the one the Jubilee Government is peddling.”
Despite a lack of analysis of these figures, Kenyans were not amused at the proposal to have a pay bill number set up to ‘Okoa Walimu’. Sammy Keige said as much.
— Sammie Keige (@SammieKeige) September 23, 2015
Sam Gichuru dismissed the opposition as the worst ever.
Another thought that the impeachment proposal should be turned from President Uhuru Kenyatta to the opposition itself.
It’s only that constitution doesn’t provide impeachment of opposition. I’m sure more than 50+1 of Kenyans would vote for that one #CORDRally
— Hovely One (@HOVELYZZ) September 23, 2015
But with the wasteful spending by the government, Raila said the total employment and public wage for 2014 as published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics are as follows: National Government: Sh85 billion. Teachers Sh145 billion, Counties Sh62 billion, Parastatals Sh77 billion, which total to Sh370 billion.
Despite the opposition raising some strong points to argue why or not to pay teachers, the opposition may have lost an opportunity to make Kenyans understand why corruption thrives. And on the paybill number, by Friday, the topic was still trending with Pauline Njoroge on Facebook saying that she needed to know how the money raised would reach the teachers.
Jane Kogi on the other hand said that the pay bill idea could be abused with the money ending up in the wrong pockets.
And as the outcomes of the rally continue being felt, Johnstone Muthama may have undone any good that would have come out the solidarity rally with many now calling for his arrest.
Already, the interior ministry has issued a statement regarding his utterances at the rally which have not augured well with Kenyans. The statement says that CS Major General Joseph Nkaissery is displeased with the utterances and calls for Muthama’s investigation by the NCIC.
— InteriorCNG Ministry (@InteriorKE) September 25, 2015
And as the teachers were ordered back to class on Friday, the debate is seemingly far from over as it has now turned from teachers’ pay to women matters. All this on the #IStandWithWaiguru.