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Politics splits dock workers union leadership

Dock Workers Union secretary-general Simon Sang addresses a meeting at the KPA Mbaraki Grounds in Mombasa recently. photo | kevin odit | nmg
Dock Workers Union secretary-general Simon Sang addresses a meeting at the KPA Mbaraki Grounds in Mombasa recently. photo | kevin odit | nmg  

The prolonged national electoral politics is causing disquiet at the giant Dock Workers Union (DWU) as the two top officials continue to pull in different directions, delaying the annual general meeting.

Secretary-general Simon Sang who supports the ruling Jubilee coalition is embroiled in a battle for the control of the 4,800-member union with chairman Mohamed Sheria who had reportedly entered a pre-August 8 poll pact with the opposition.

Insiders, however, say politics may be a smokescreen for a more insidious battle for the control of Sh4.6 million monthly membership contributions made by Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Ferry Services workers.

“The spat started when the treasurer called for forensic audit of the union funds leading to suspension of some senior officials,” said Mr Mohamed Mwinyi Chilembi, who is a member.

But Mr Sang has maintained that the officials were suspended for gross misconduct and failure to attend meetings.

“Financial impropriety allegations being raised against me are nothing but mere hearsay. No one has evidence to prove. We have strict rules and guidelines on what we spend at the union,” he said. He has unsuccessfully attempted to hold an annual general meeting.

The AGM was suspended the previous week due to simmering tension between the two rival groups.

However, it is the Saturday aborted meeting that exposed to the public the behind- the- scenes infighting between the secretary-general and the chairman when their supporters engaged in physical confrontation until police intervened.

Police were forced to barricade the main entrance to the venue of the meeting with some agitated members attempting to gain entry.