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Irate farmers demand forensic audit of society

Coffee farmers of the trouble ridden Rumukia Cooperative Society in Mukurweini, Nyeri County have demanded a forensic audit of their organisation to save it from total collapse.

 Speaking on Friday at Thunguri coffee factory during a meeting with the Assistant Commissioner of Cooperatives Peter Wanjohi, they lamented that no legal action was recommended on the management for plunging the society into financial woes.

   Wanjohi had just released an inquiry report ordered by the Commissioner, State Department of Cooperatives and the County government of Nyeri following allegations of financial misappropriation on the part of the current society management.

“Sending the management packing without preferring any legal action will set a bad precedent on others who will follow,” lamented a farmer Kanyi Mbote.

  His sentiments were echoed by farmers Nicholas Kibui Kariuki, Hannah Wangari, Thande Njogu among others who expressed dissatisfaction with the findings of the audit report.

 In his report, Wanjohi said there was carelessness on the part of management with regard to unsound financial decisions attributable to successive management since 2012.

“The main problem here is financial indiscipline where shortfalls have been financed carelessly through borrowing and this has made the loan portfolio to keep building up every year,” said Wanjohi.

  At the centre of the messy society is a Sh60 million loan secured by the management allegedly without the sanction of the farmers that has now accumulated to about Sh167 million over the years.

  The audit report recommended that the current management be sent packing and farmers asked to elect an interim committee on Tuesday next week to oversee the society affairs for the next three months, pending elections of a fully-fledged committee.

  The Assistant Commissioner for Cooperatives also informed them that they could request a forensic audit to be carried out once a substantive committee is in office as the inquiry was only meant to unearth what was ailing the society.

“I will still continue hawking my coffee because nothing is being done to rescue this society, a local farmer Hannah Wangari kariti asserted.

 In mid last year, Taifa Sacco who loaned the coffee society threatened to auction its asserts.

  However, Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga intervened and brought the management of the farmers and Taifa Sacco to a negotiating table on how to repay the loan. The management used the society asserts as collateral to secure the funds.

  Farmers affiliated to the society have distanced themselves from the loan facility, asserting that they did not sanction it and neither did it benefit them.

  For years, farmers from the eight factories affiliated to the Rumukia coffee society have been receiving near nil payments for their produce, owing to this debt prompting many to move to other societies or turn to hawking their coffee.

 A farmer Mr Macharia Wanyeki, said they would follow all the legal process to ensure officials who brought the society to its knees are held to account to deter others from mismanaging the once giant society.

  Wanyeki pleaded with farmers not to allow the society to collapse and ensure they elect men and women of integrity into office.

by Mwangi Gaitha

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