Why the Tea Board elections have been delayed

Women carry a sack of tea leaves on their backs to a collection centre after picking them on a farm in Kapsabet, Nandi County.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya| Nation

Confusion has marred the election of tea factory directors across the country due to delays in the delivery of election materials by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The IEBC was tasked with overseeing the elections in 54 Small Holder Tea Factories in 15 counties to ensure a free, fair and credible process.

In a memo to candidates and voters this morning, June 28, the IEBC said the elections would start at 11 am and not 7 am as previously announced. As a result, polling stations will close at 7 pm.

"The delay was caused by the late certification of the voters' roll and unforeseen public demonstrations that disrupted the printing and transportation of ballot papers." Reads a statement from IEBC National Returning Officer Martin Nyaga.

The morning memo caught many farmers off guard as they had already started flocking to polling stations to vote.

Several candidates who spoke to Nation.Africa expressed concern over the IEBC's late communication.

"There is total confusion in the tea zones. We are now trying to manage the farmers so that they don't abandon the process. If they can't make it by 11 am, they should postpone the elections," said Baptista Muriki, one of the candidates in Igembe.

The IEBC's supervision of the elections is part of the tea sub-sector reforms. 

Voting will be one farmer, one vote, as opposed to the previous system where the number of votes was based on shareholding.

Voters must be on the tea factory's voters' register and present their national identity card and a green leaf delivery pay slip for any month between June 2023 and May 2024.