Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has claimed that unscrupulous dealers in the coffee industry tried to bribe him so that he can go slow on reforms in the sector.
Without substantiating the claim, Mr Gachagua added that similar advances had been made towards Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, but maintained that they will not be swayed.
Mr Gachagua said the cartels offered them millions of shillings but they rebuffed them, saying the “job is tough but we will succeed. The journey to liberate the coffee farmer has reached a point of no return and we will make it”.
“We have not given up as reported by some media. These fellows are difficult, but I want to assure farmers that we will not relent and we are asking them to be a little patient,” he said.
The DP also accused some officials in government of frustrating his efforts to dismantle cartels in the sector.
“The cartels have compromised some officers in government but they will not succeed because President William Ruto and I will not be intimidated. We will deal with them,” he said.
“The coffee reforms started in 2019 but were frustrated and rules that were meant to straighten the sector were suspended for a year. We reinstated the rules, which are meant to ensure the farmer benefits, and that is what they are fighting. But I want to tell farmers that we will succeed in this fight,” the DP added.
Mr Gachagua was speaking at the Methodist Church in Kaelo, Igembe North in Meru County, where he helped raise funds to build the church.
He was accompanied by Mr Linturi, deputy Senate speaker Kathuri Murungi, MPs and 25 members of the county assembly.
Mr Gachagua said his recent tour to Colombia was fruitful, and announced that several investors had expressed interest in buying coffee directly from farmers.
Concerning the high political temperatures in Meru where Governor Kawira Mwangaza is embroiled in a row with her deputy Isaac Mutuma and other leaders, Mr Gachagua said the Presidency had decided to let leaders in the region resolve the dispute.
Members of the county assembly have vowed to table a second impeachment motion against Ms Mwangaza, accusing her of incompetence and failing to involve other county officials and leaders in governing the county.
While being grilled by the county assembly on letters he had written to the MCAs seeking clarification on the role of the deputy governor in the running of the county, Mr Mutuma said Ms Mwangaza had denied him funds to run his office.
Mr Gachagua said he had held talks with leaders in the county, including Ms Mwangaza, and agreed that the wrangles will be resolved locally.
“Church leaders, the senator, MCAs and other elected leaders should sit down and agree how you will resolve the row. But we don’t want the people of Meru not to benefit from development projects because of these wrangles and a solution should be found,” he said.
“Meru and Mt Kenya region form the bedrock of our administration and we will not allow leadership wrangles to take root. We want peace so that our people can benefit from this government,” he said.