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Kiru Tea Farmers Defy KTDA to Elect Directors

A section of farmers allied to Kiru Tea Factory in Murang’a on Friday confirmed a faction of directors to sit on the board of the facility.


The farmers unanimously endorsed the directors allied to lawyer Chege Kirundi to sit in the factory’s board despite opposition from Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).


The factory located in Mathioya Sub County has since 2017 has been experiencing leadership wrangles after one group of farmers elected Kirundi as their chairman and another faction which was supported by KTDA picked Stephen Githiga as their chairman.


Since then, the two groups have been battling in court where Kirundi’s faction won the case and the directors led by Githiga and the KTDA were fined.


Speaking after the elections held under tight security, Kirundi said the exercise was done in accordance with the law, observing due to many legal cases, the factory’s board did not achieve much in the last term.


He spoke despite scores of farmers being locked out of the factory’s compound as security agents claimed they wanted to ensure protocols on Covid-19 were adhered.


Kirundi claimed that he has been at war with KTDA after citing lack of transparency, failure to conduct a forensic audit for the years the agency has controlled the factory.


The elections, he added, were convened through a notice by the company secretary  Bernard Kiragu who was replaced after the sacking of former secretary Dr Kennedy Omanga.


“We are determined to implement the tea regulations that were passed by the farmers before endorsed by the senate and the national assembly,” said Kirundi.


In a rejoinder, Githiga speaking to KNA through phone dismissed the meeting saying it was an exercise in futility conducted in disregard to the law.


He said the forum was held at the time the government has outlawed public gathering to help stop the spread of Covid-19, adding that the forum was a one-man show.


“We are also planning to hold a meeting at Kiru factory to prove that we are the bonafide members of the board,” said Githiga.


The Kirundi camp fell out with KTDA after they demanded the factory to terminate its contract with KTDA and reduction of payment to the management agent from 2.5 percent to one percent.


During the meeting, the farmers told of their frustrations and that of the company secretary who nearly lost his life after he was attacked by a gun-wielding gang.


But a group of farmers who support KTDA dismissed the elections saying the legal procedures were not followed.


A group led by Peter Gikonyo said they will engage farmers at buying centres and deliberate the way forward towards leadership of the factory.


“What we have seen here is a sham. No elections are done through shouting. Elections of directors need to be done through secret ballots. Majority of farmers, especially those supporting KTDA, were locked out of the venue,” added Gikonyo.

By Bernard Munyao


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