The war between former KTDA directors in Embu and tea farmers has taken a new twist after a section of growers threatened to sue the former managers over alleged misuse of funds.
The ex-directors who are accused of mismanaging the multibillion shilling sector were ousted last year through a special Annual General Meeting (AGM) following reforms instituted by the government.
The government then ordered for a forensic and systems audit of all KTDA affiliated factories to stamp out exploitation of famers and improve efficiency.
In Embu, the ex-directors have been accused of purchasing parcels of lands in Mbeere for tree plantations for provision of firewood a decade ago without consultations and above prevailing market value.
Area KTDA board member Enos Njeru speaking during a presser two weeks ago noted that forensic audit on the land buying project showed that the ex-managers bought an acre for Sh500, 000 against the prevailing market price of Sh100, 000.
“The parcels bought between 2009 and 2010 by Mungania Factory in Rwika and Ngigeri areas for instance, have been of no benefit to farmers as nothing grows there owing to dry climate in the area classified as semi-arid,” Njeru said.
He said 10 years down the line, the trees are under five feet tall while the value of land there has not reached the amount at which it was bought for by the former directors.
The farmers have faulted the acquisition, saying it was unlawful since they were not consulted and that the move could have been driven by ulterior motives by the ex-directors to make a killing from their sweat.
“No meeting was held with farmers prior to the move and we construe that as a ploy to defraud us which should be punished by law,” said farmer Bernard Kinyua from Kathangariri Factory.
Another farmer and cleric Joseph Wega from Mungania Tea Factory, said the team ought to be prosecuted to serve as a lesson to others that once you are elected to serve farmers, it is not a chance you are given to enrich yourself.
The farmers also called on the ex-directors to make a point of attending the upcoming AGMs of their respective factories to explain to farmers what they did during their tenure and why they still feel they are the bona fide leaders.
“Instead of dragging farmers in courts, they should come to the AGMs and talk to the famers who voted them out or wait for the next elections to try to recoup their seats,” Wega said.
By Samuel Waititu