Journalist Hassan Barisa is the new chairman of the Tana River branch of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).
Barisa, a correspondent with The Standard newspaper, trounced two other candidates to clinch the coveted position that has been held by Hassan Wario for the last three years. Wario resigned to vie for a Coast regional post.
During the branch elections, Barisa scooped 291 votes out of a total of 482, beating his closest rival, Jarred Obara,
who garnered 187 votes and immediate former Vice Chairman, Ernest Akumu, who managed only four votes.
Shehe Bonaya was elected vice chairman unopposed alongside all candidates for directorship allied to Barisa.
There were however, claims of election malpractices that made Obara immediately dismiss the result as inconsequential, after voters he allegedly ferried to the election venue and feted, voted for his rival.
It was alleged that Obara shipped a number of traders and bought them meals prior to the voting exercise, and even continued to give them refreshments during the actual exercise.
Addressing the traders after the elections, Obara conceded that he had spent a lot of money to transport voters from the three sub counties and did not understand why he had lost.
“I brought people from Garsen. I do not know what happened to my people in Bura who I also sent a vehicle to ferry them to the venue,”he lamented while conceding defeat. “I however thank God I got this much,” he added.
He lambasted his rival for allegedly basing the campaigns on tribal grounds and termed the new leadership a tribal caucus that may not lead the business fraternity successfully.
Obara however, pledged to work with the new team and appealed to the new leaders to unite the traders for better results.
On the other hand, Akumu, unconditionally conceded defeat and urged the newly elected officials to steer the business community in the county to greater heights.
He encouraged the Barisa-led team to work hard and rope in all business people in the county, who he said were more than 2,000.
“There are more than 2,000 traders in this county but those who are members of KNCCI are a paltry 964,”he said, adding; “It is now your duty to ensure those that have not registered as members do so and bring stability in the county’s commercial sector.”
Barissa thanked the voters for their confidence in him, saying they had demonstrated that democracy cannot be killed by bribery.
“This is how democratic people should do – take money from those who offer it but vote with their consciences,” he said.
He urged traders in the county to enroll in cooperative societies as well as make use of the county government’s Inuka Fund of Sh.100 million annually aimed at boosting businesses in the county.
“I also urge you to register with KNCCI because my office will work with our members to ensure they benefit from all funds, including Inuka,”he said.
By Emmanuel Masha