Six newly elected Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) directors on Monday stormed Ndima Tea Factory in Kirinyaga County and took over the offices under tight security. They arrived at the factory at 8.30am and declared that they are the bonafide office bearers despite opposition by ousted officials who boycotted the Saturday polls at Kiangai Primary School. Armed police guarded the directors to ensure that no one interfered with the takeover process. Led by their chairperson John Mithamo Wasusana, the directors said they had started working to free farmers from exploitation in the tea industry. They described the takeover process as peaceful and pledged to provide quality leadership and protect farmers from any form of oppression. "Farmers have been downtrodden for long but we shall ensure that there will be no more stealing of their payments," said Mr Wasusana. All the directors were elected by the farmers in an incident-free poll despite a court order stopping the polls. The farmers said they had not been served with the order which had been obtained by KTDA blocking the polls. During the exercise, the farmers picked their own returning officer to oversee the polls.
The directors vowed to prevail upon the KTDA to withdraw all the cases they had filed prior to the polls to save farmers' funds. "Those cases which were meant to stop the polls and implementation of the new tea rules were filed using farmers' money and they must be withdrawn. Farmers' resources should not be wasted," added Mr Wasusana. Another director, Johnstone Muchiri said farmers will no longer be paid peanuts for their produce. "From now onward farmers will enjoy the fruits of their labour," he said. The directors promised to address the issue of inflated kilogrammes of tea in the factory, poor marketing and high cost of production to ensure that farmers reap maximum benefits from their produce. The new directors told their ousted colleagues to refrain from complaining since they had been invited to defend their seats but they chose to boycott the polls. However, the ousted officials kept away from the factory but said they didn't recognise the polls which kicked them out. They questioned how the polls were conducted despite a court order blocking them.
Source: Nation Media