By Kamundia Muriithi
Eighteen board members serving on tea factory boards in Embu County have threatened to boycott the forthcoming elections for directors of three tea factories.
They have vowed to boycott the elections, because of alleged government interference in the exercise.
The officials dismissed the elections planned to be held on April 10 as illegal, claiming that that the 28,000 farmers in the zone have been threatened ahead of the polls.
“Elections are being pushed by the national government, which has already come up with a schedule for the same,” said Kenya Tea Development Agency Embu Zone Board Member Samuel Mwafrika.
He said laid-down regulations have been violated in the critical process and KTDA which is mandated to call elections and not the national government sidelined.
“The exercise normally begins with the election of committees at buying centres followed by that of directors but the forthcoming elections will conducted on playgrounds where directors will be elected contrary to regulations,” complained Mwafrika.
He said the elected directors will assume offices without buying centers and will not oversee tea matters effectively.
Mwafrika asked the government to ensure the right procedure for conducting the elections is upheld by adhering to the KTDA Company Act 2015.
Rukuriri Tea Factory Director, Joshua Kanake wondered why elections are being forcefully enforced when there is a pending court case concerning the same.
He said the court suspended the executive order three on the revitalization of the tea sub-sector until the matter is heard on April 20, this year.
Kanke added that as elected leaders who are legitimately in office, they are mandated to guide farmers on what is beneficial to them and what to ignore.
Another Director Eston Mugo also wondered how the government can call for elections without involving KTDA.
The duo urged farmers to boycott the elections until they are legally convened, which would include an announcement from the KTDA Secretary.
Mwafrika said the directors are not against Agriculture CS Peter Munya’s tea regulations, but argued that some of the new laws will affect the tea sector negatively.
He observed that the three tea factories he represents- Rukuriri, Kathangariri and Mungania- had entered into a contract with a tea buying company to purchase green leaf directly from the factories.
“The regulation prohibiting direct sale of tea will force such factories to breach the contract and be liable to prosecution,” he said.