KTDA threatens to sue CS Munya over tea reforms timelines


What you need to know:

  • CS Munya said the regulations have gone through due process.
  • He added that tea sector players were given sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the new requirements.
  • But KTDA wants the timelines revoked.
  • By enforcing the regulations, the lawyers said KTDA is staring at unimaginable losses and damages.

The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has threatened to take legal action against Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya for releasing an implementation timeline for tea reforms before they are approved by Parliament.

The timelines published by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) intend to have the Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations, 2020 fully implemented by February next year.

CS Munya said the regulations have gone through due process and that tea sector players were given sufficient time – more than two months – to familiarise themselves with the new regulatory requirements and to create their own implementation capacity.

The regulations were initiated in January and are aimed at addressing corruption and exploitation of farmers as well as conflict of interest in the management of the tea value chain. They are also intended to reform the value chain in order to increase farmers’ revenue by doing away with middlemen and brokers.

Revoke timelines

But the tea agency, through their lawyers, Millimo and Muthomi Co Advocates, said the impugned tea reforms are designed to bring down a rather stable small-scale tea farmer industry in Kenya.

They want the timelines revoked.

“Failure to comply with the aforesaid demand shall crystalise our instructions to commence legal proceedings with a view to [providing] appropriate reliefs to our clients although at your own risk as to cost and other credentials emanating therefrom,” read the memo from the lawyers.

By enforcing the regulations, the lawyers said KTDA is staring at unimaginable losses and damages.

The lawyers lamented that KTDA had lodged its displeasure over the illegality and unconstitutionality of the reforms but the CS went ahead to gazette them as well as present them to Parliament for consideration.

Objections to reforms

Further, the tea agency lamented that they had written to Parliament requesting their objections to the reforms be heard before the respective committee before they are debated on.

“During the pendency of Parliament consideration of the conflicted tea reforms, you have with a view of short circuiting due process proceeded to decree the implementation of the regulations,” read the memo to AFA.

According to Mr Munya, the roadmap for implementation and schedule of the new requirements that tea sector players must comply with are tied in three milestones.

“The first milestone covers all the requirements that can be complied with immediately, the second is related to internal reorganisation in the operations of tea value chain players by November 1 and the third involves the reorganisation of the governance and operation structure of key stakeholder organisation,” said CS Munya, adding that the implementation roadmap will be strictly enforced.

KTDA argues that the proposed tea reforms have a far reaching negative ramification including grounding its business and operations.

In addition, they say the implementation of the reforms is premature and an unmitigated abuse of due process whose justification cannot be valid in any law.

“Your intended enforcement of the impugned reforms against our client is untenable both under the law, the constitution and a democratic society where private business enterprises ought to be facilitated by State to undertake lawful activities as opposed to your executive frustrations and sabotage as pursed by yourselves,” read the letter by the lawyers.