By Kamundia Muriithi
A meeting of coffee farmers affiliated to the troubled Murue Farmers’ Co-operative Society in Embu convened to iron out management wrangles ended abruptly after two factions clashed. That was the second such meeting to abort.
The purpose of the meeting convened at the society’s premises by the Office of the Commissioner of Cooperatives was to gather opinions of farmers on how to solve the disputes amicably so as to save the giant society from imminent collapse.
When the time came for the farmers to give their views, opposing groups shouted the speakers down, forcing the Assistant Commissioner of Co-operatives Samuel Kiptoo to call off the meeting.
The society has been facing severe management issues with a controversial Sh.66 million loan secured by the management at the centre of the controversy. Some farmers claim they did not sanction, and neither did they know how it was spent.
They claim the money might have ended up in the pockets of the management committee, which has since denied the accusations saying all loans are sanctioned by members and that no money had been lost.
An impromptu inspection carried out by the Office of Co-operative Development alleges cases of financial impropriety.
This prompted Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to order for an immediate inquiry into the society’s affairs a few weeks ago.
“I have ordered an inquiry into the society’s dealings. It is in today’s Kenya Gazette and you can go read it. We will follow the law to ensure farmers do not lose their money,” he said.
One faction of the farmers, however, is opposed to the inquiry and has moved to the High Court in Embu to block it. Their petition was granted for 45 days, after which hearing and determination will commence.
The Office of the Commissioner of Co-operatives also vowed to oppose the petition in court, with Kiptoo saying their main aim was to restore order and good governance.
Following the botched meeting, Kiptoo said they will write a report to the Commissioner of Co-operatives, who will in turn give further direction on how to sort out the trouble in the society.