22 Mar

Tea growers from seven tea factories in Murang'a County have finalised plans to hold special general meetings to reportedly oust directors through a vote of no confidence. According to organisers, seven out of ten factories in the area will hold the meetings on Saturday and directors have been served with notices of intent of removal as part of the agenda.“In your place, another resolution will be moved for your replacement,” reads the notice.The factories where special general meetings will be held are Makomboki, Nduti, Kanyenya-ini, Githambo, Ikumbi, Njunu and Gatunguru.The special general meetings have not been proposed in Ngere, Kiru, and Gacharage tea factories.But a section of directors have accused the conveners of the meetings of inciting farmers against them despite initiating reforms in the smallholder tea subsector. “There is a lot of incitement going on in tea-growing areas which is a threat to peace in a relatively stable industry,” said one of the directors at Makomboki tea factory.

The meetings, according to notices dated March 3, will be held on open grounds where farmers are expected to pick new directors.Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta in an executive order directed the election of new directors to be conducted in 60 days.Aberdare/Mt Kenya Tea farmers Association chairman Wambugu Gacunji said farmers will be sensitised on reforms initiated by the government after they were passed by the Senate and National Assembly.Tea Lobby chairman Irungu Nyakera said implementation of reforms call for election of new directors.“The directors should be removed as they have been part of the system that ignored the plight of growers,” said Mr Nyakera.Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i ordered the police to allow the farmers hold the meetings and provide security.“The farmers will be taken through the reform process from the farms to the auction market, a thing that has never happened in the history of the tea sector,” said Mr Gacunji.

The storm in the tea sector started at Kiru factory in 2017 after the chairman Chege Kirundi demanded a forensic audit into operations of the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) before renewal of the managing agency contract.The rebellion by a former long-serving KTDA insider culminated into a coup in which former Sasini Limited Managing Director Stephen Githiga was picked to replace Kirundi as Kiru Tea Factory chairman, triggering years of litigation and eventually reforms in the sub-sector.Last week, the president in an executive, order directed the Attorney General to conduct a forensic inquiry into the operations of KTDA. In the order, the AG was directed to conduct an inquiry into alleged statutory and regulatory compliance breaches committed by the directors. 

Source: Standard Media