Kenya Tea Development Agency (Holdings) Ltd Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lerionka Tiampati and other senior staff have been sent on compulsory leave.
The newly elected KTDA Board of Directors who took over and assumed office on Monday said this takes effect immediately to allow for investigations and determination of culpability for any malpractices and possible abuse of office.
The incoming Chairperson David Muni Ichoho in a press statement to newsrooms said that other senior staff sent on compulsory leave include; Dr John K. Omanga (Company Secretary), Alfred Njagi (Managing Director KTDA), Benson Ngari (Finance and Strategy Director), David Mbugua (General Manager, ICT) and Head of Procurement logistics Mr Brown M. Kanampiu.
Ichoho said that in order to ensure continuity in service delivery, the board will fill the vacant positions in due course. He added that forensic audit of the operational and financial systems will also be undertaken in due course.
“Procurement contracts will also be reviewed to ascertain value for money and determine if the services and goods were obtained within the market benchmarks,” said Ichoho.
Ichoho said that all cases brought by or that have been filed by the Company or the tea factory company against the Crops Industry Regulations, 2020, and the Tea Act, 2021 will be discontinued with immediate effect.
“The Company will support full implementation of the Tea Act 2020 and will no longer pursue avenues that are against the interest of over 600,000 small holder farmers,” he said.
Ichoho highlighted that their assumption into office marks a major milestone in the Tea industry reforms, particularly for the smallholder sub-sector as this is a culmination of the process which was kicked off by the shareholders three months ago, starting with the election of new board of directors for each of the 54 Tea Factory Companies.
“The reform journey began in earnest on 14th January 2020, with the directives by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya, following outcry by over 658,000 farmers over dwindling fortunes as it became clear that the tea value chain governance structures had been captured by some individuals and groups of persons for their own selfish interests at the expense of the principal stakeholders – the tea farmers,” said Ichoho.
He said KTDA, the institution with the biggest mandate for the smallholder sub sector and itself owned by tea farmers abdicated their core responsibility of serving the best interests of the farmers.
“It is against this background that shareholders made a decision to exercise their rights to make leadership changes with a view to charting a new direction towards a sustainable and profitable farming in tea sub-sector for smallholders. The farmers, towards this objective undertook to elect new leaders from the shareholders as Factory Directors and Board members for the KTDA Holdings,” Ichoho said.
He highlighted that during the Special General Meeting of the KTDA (Holdings) Ltd held on Friday, June 18, 2021 the following were elected as board members; David Muni Ichoho-Chairperson, Michael Kamau Ngatia, Paul Mwangi Kagema, Enos Njiru Njeru, John Mithamo Wasusana, Geoffrey Chege Kirundi, Abungana Khasiani, Erick Kipeyegon Chepkwony, Thaddeus Mose Mangenya, James Ombasa Omweno, Wesley Cheruiyot Koech and Baptista Muriki Kanyaru. Mr Patrick Ngunjiri was also appointed as the Acting Company Secretary.
“As the new board takes charge, we wish to assure all shareholders of our commitment to seamless and uninterrupted business operations, particularly with regard to provision of services to farmers through the managing agency subsidiary, the KTDA (MS) Ltd. Further, we would like to assure our customers of continued supply of quality tea within the required tastes and timelines,” Ichoho said.
“The staff of the KTDA are assured of their jobs and are directed by the Board to professionally perform their duties as expected and in accordance with Human Resource manual unless otherwise directed by the Board,” he said.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a