Caption: Doctors marching for their rights and by extension the rights of all Kenyans who are still manipulated by media initiatives to raise money for the few privileged media-linked personalities. Always remember that mainstream media is Kenya’s enemy No. 1.
On December 4th 2011, Doctors and Health Practitioners working under the Kenya Medical Practitioners And Dentists Union (KMPDU) , launched industrial action on a scale reminiscent only to the 1994 doctor’s strike, even though this one was nipped in the bud after only a week.
The energy by the striking doctors sounded like a similar strike in 1994 that lasted three months – 105 days to be exact – between June and September and virtually closed down public health facilities.
Back then, the 3000 doctors were demanding the registration of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU), the inspiration for the current union, along with better conditions of service salary increases.
Almost two decades later today, it is the same KMPDU that called for the strike.
But the 1994 strike would be remembered as the longest and worst industrial action ever taken by the members of the medical profession in the history of post-independent Kenya. Though the country had just had the first multi-party elections two years earlier, the government of President Moi still did not tolerate groups or individuals who challenged it or portrayed it in a negative light. The government of President Moi declined to register the union arguing that such bodies are for unskilled workers and not for professionals. Doctors were highly-trained professionals and President Moi could not understand why they would want to form a union. President Moi went as far as threatening to hire foreign doctors from Cuba and India if the striking doctors would not return to work.
Then Health minister Joshua Angatia was willing to talk to the doctors but only on government’s terms which were that they resume duty and abandon their call for registration of a union. Despite the intimidation, the doctors, led by Dr Givens Ateka were not relenting on their quest for improved working conditions. President Moi gave them a one-week ultimatum towards end of August 1994. When they did not end the strike within the one-week, the government acted by dismissing most of the 3,000 public-sector doctors. Then health Permanent secretary Dennis Afande sent letters to individual doctors, saying they had been fired for deserting their duty and given 48 hours to vacate government apartments. The government then set up a new scheme of service that raised a medical officer’s starting salary from Sh8,170 to Sh9,490 and gave the same responsibility allowance to paramedics as to doctors. The union then was not registered and it was not until August 30, 2011 that the doctors eventually received the all-important registration certificate after a 17-year wait.
The December 2011 strike had everything that was needed to realise Kenya’s objectives of free universal healthcare for all Kenyans, as it not only focussed on salaries but consistent supply of drugs and equipment, a national plan to improve health care in Kenya, and higher wages. The starting wage for doctors in Kenya is about $400 a month. In contrast, members of parliament make around $11,000 a month — some of the highest wages for legislators in the world.
Today we shine the light on three (3) individuals who were the faces of the strike, that surprisingly had the support of Kenyans, in as much as bribed mainstream media operatives tried to paint doctors as the guilty party. Dr. Victor Ngani who was the KMPDU Chairman, Boniface Chitayi Murabula who was the vocal Secretary General and Dr. Wambui Waithaka who was the treasurer.
Caption: The three musketeers. Bonifance Chitayi, Victor Ngani and Wambui Waithaka.
After nearly 9 days of industrial action that had cornered the grand-coalition Government and held it by its balls, a flurry of night meetings and “special delegates” meetings were hurriedly convened, after an initial meeting between the union and treasury, by then headed by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. A theory that gained currency amongst the medical fraternity was that bribes exchaged hands, making a mockery of what was initially meant to be a turning point for Kenya’s health sector.
Indeed, going by the recent revelations of the amount of money that for instance Anne Waiguru and Joe Nkaissery have looted within one year alone, every County would have a referral hospital and not just a stupid ambulance donated by a socialite residing in the big house. Kenyans would not need to fundraise money to send Janet Kanini or Jahmbee Koikai to India, as we have qualified doctors who with the right conditions, incentives and facilities can make Kenya a hub for medical discoveries and treatment in the continent. For how long should we Kenyans donate to fraudulent schemes like Maina Kageni’s Cancer drive, meant to enrich his friend Fred Ngatia of Megascope? How long must we #BringZackBack and enrich Bob Collymore and GinaDin Kariuki who promised us a hospital with the money raised? Our health sectors cannot run on philanthropy.
Moving on, we may not be able to quantify the amount of bribes handed to the trio who then went out of their way to call off the strike and sign an inferior return-to-work formula. What we know for sure is that from his interactions with Uhuru, Boniface Chitayi was made a Health Secretary for TNA, and promised to be appointed as Health CS once Uhuru took over office. Unfortunately the clown was duped because he shoul have known that Uhuru doesn’t employ nobodies. You either went to school with him, or are part of his social-circles, and not villagers or commoners like Chitayi. Today, Chitayi Murabula fronts as “Thirdway Alliance” a refreshing new approach to Kenya’s politics.
Caption: Boniface Chitayi who now masquerades as Thirdway.
Wambui Waithaka’s maiden appearance on Jeff Koinange’s Bench while it was still residing on K24 was very suspicious, as she dressed in a short skirt exposing quite some skin and seemed to say virtually nothing. Indeed, many were of the opinion that she was using the TV slot to husband-hunt and she did eventually land a divorcee from the United States, and has scaled-down her social media posts. Afterall, she did achieve what she wanted. Victor Ngani went off the grid. Seems he was green and not in the know as regards to unscrupulous back-room tactics of some of his colleagues.
In December 2014, the inaugural KMPDU office were bundled out of their positions, and new office-bearers elected, doctors tired of the deceit and inertia occassioned by the turncoats. We are closely monitoring theatrics by current KMPDU boss Ouma Oluga, where he is said to be very cosy with Governors for bribes. This is a warning shot, that you risk to have your legacy go down the drain like the founder officials of your union. We have you on our radar. You can run, but you can’t hide!
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