Kuppet raises red flag over Sh115bn in pension scheme

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has raised a red flag over the management of the Public Service Superannuation Scheme (PSSS) following a delay over appointment of trustees to its board.

The union yesterday said that it cannot guarantee the safety of the teachers investment since the board is operating without a management board after the earlier board’s mandate expired in December 2023. Kuppet nominated its national treasurer, Wicks Mwethi Njenga, for re-appointment as a trustee on January 23 2024 but his appointment has never been gazetted alongside those of others from other unions and government bodies.

“The delay, for four months now, in concluding the appointments has created a vacuum in PSSS management that may jeopardise the scheme’s proper management as set in law. The continued vacuum at board level leaves billions of shillings of pensioners’ hard-earned savings at risk,” said Akello Misori, the secretary-general of the union.

The union is also opposed to a request by the principal secretary for National Treasury and Economic Planning Chris Kiptoo to submit three names, arguing that the PSSS Act requires unions to appoint only one person.

In the statement, Kuppet said that the trustees oversee the investment of the members’ contributions and that currently the decisions are made by the CEO and other staff. He accused a former Kenya National Union of Teachers of meddling in the appointments.

“Hon Wilson Sossion, who holds no public office, tried in vain to have the union change its nominee. He had intercepted our communication with the principal secretary for Finance, Dr Chris Kiptoo, which he used to pile pressure on the union to amend its nomination of Mr Njenga,” Mr Misori said.

However, Mr Sossion distanced himself from the allegations. The nomination of the Kuppet trustee has split the union after a letter purportedly written by the national secretary – tertiary Sammy Chelang’a and the assistant national treasurer Ronald Tonui to Dr Kiptoo including three nominees. It included Mr Chelang’a’s and Edward Obwocha, the national secretary for secondary.

Mr Misori said that the letter was a forgery and is being investigated by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

“Let them sort out their differences and Kuppet and not drag my name into their problems. That is nonsense. I left the labour movement space to them a long time ago,” Mr Sossion told Nation.

Dr Kiptoo, in a circular dated December 20 2023 wrote to the unions asking for names of three candidates, a position opposed by Kuppet and Knut. The National Police Service and the Union of Civil Servants also have one representative each.

“We wrote a reminder to PS but we haven’t heard from him. The board must be declared and gazetted. It’s tricky if there’re operations at the PSSS without a legal board,” Collins Oyuu, the secretary-general of Knut told Nation. He added that the union was not aware of where the teachers’ contributions are invested.

The PSSS has a membership of about 420,000 who contribute Sh3.6 billion monthly. Teachers make up the majority of the membership as those on the payroll of the Teachers Service Commission are 360,000.

Under the pension scheme, the government contributes 15 per cent of its employees’ basic salary who top it up with 7.5 per cent. The fund is the second largest in Kenya after the National Social Security Fund. It commence in January 2021 and replaced the non-contributory pension scheme previously operated by the government.

“We once again remind the cabinet secretary for Finance Prof Njuguna Ndung’u to be conscious of the suffering our retirees go through to access their pensions. The legal framework of PSSS appointments was carefully crafted to ensure good governance and accountability in the scheme,” Mr Misori said.


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