AG wants tea agency elections frozen

Tea farmers stage protests outside Gitugi tea factory in Nyeri County last week. They boycotted tea picking over low bonus payout by KTDA.  

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The AG wants the exercise halted pending hearing and determination of his cross-petition against one filed by the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA).
  • Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya says that the old process of conducting elections has been overhauled by the tea regulations. 
  • Justice Eric Ogola certified the application urgent and directed that it be heard on October 21.

Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki wants Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) temporarily stopped from conducting nominations and elections for tea factory directors.

The AG wants the exercise halted pending hearing and determination of his cross-petition against one filed by the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA).

Through litigation counsel Nguyo Wachira, the AG says conducting the polls will render the Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations 2020 nugatory and the process a mockery of law.

"Proceeding with the proposed elections will amount to an act of impunity, would be contemptuous, contrary to public interest, the dictates of the rule of law, good governance and gross abuse of the court process,” says the AG in his application at the High Court in Mombasa.

“Unless the court grants the conservatory orders, the tea sector will be thrust into confusion which may never be recovered from soon,” argues the AG.

“These new tea regulations have clauses to address the conflict of interest that exist when a director sits on the board of management agent and also in the board of the tea factory,” said the AG.

Suspended by court

He says a move to call elections by KTDA is meant to defeat the provisions in the regulations which are geared towards removing existing conflict of interest.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya says that the old process of conducting elections has been overhauled by the tea regulations. 

In his supporting affidavit to the application, Mr Munya says even when orders suspending the rules are lifted, the process of electing new board members for smallholder tea factories is in contention.

“There are timelines issued by the office of the CS which have also been suspended by court where we had prepared new and clear guidelines for election of board members for the smallholder tea sub-sector,” states Mr Munya.

He says if elections are held and the regulations are upheld or set aside by court, there would be chaos in the tea sector.

Justice Eric Ogola certified the application urgent and directed that it be heard on October 21.

pmuyanga@ke.nationmedia.com