Gachagua: Cartels have infiltrated government but will be defeated

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is coronated as a Borana elder, by Borana Council of elders leader Buke Gollo. [DPCS]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has accused a section of government officials of colluding with coffee cartels.

Speaking during a fundraiser for Kaelo Methodist Church in Kenya (MCK) at Laare in Meru on Sunday, Mr Gachagua said coffee cartels had been entrenched in the system for five decades, and it has been a challenge defeating them.

But the DP was firm that it was just a matter of time before the menace was dealt a blow owing to the commitment of President Ruto, himself and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi to rescue coffee farmers.

While commending the Agriculture Ministry for good progress on the matter, Gachagua said the cartels had made attempts to bribe Linturi with Sh30m, but he told them off.

"The coffee cartel is giving us a challenge. They have been here for 50 years. We are committed to defeating them, but they are throwing kicks," said the DP.

Gachagua pleaded with farmers to persevere a little because the cartels would soon be dispensed with.

"You know, snatching a piece of meat from the mouth of a lion is not a joke. But we are firm. We are not going to give up the fight against cartels," he said.

He said: "These fellows (cartels) are difficult. But we are fighting them hard. I want to assure our coffee farmers that the reforms we have started cannot be stopped".

Gachagua said the war against cartels had been compromised as they had worked in collusion with government officials in the previous regime.

"They have compromised people within government. We have traitors within the government who have worked with coffee brokers. I want to assure them the president, and I cannot be intimidated.

He said the cartels had sponsored fake surveys indicating farmers did not want the reforms to take effect, because they would empower farmers.

"We are going to liberate the coffee farmers. We are saying to farmers be a little patient. We are almost succeeding. In another three, four weeks, we will put these people in their place," he said.

He said they had secured markets which would ensure farmers do not have to go through brokers who are blamed for fleecing them for decades.

"We have got a market, and very soon, we are going to get people coming from America who will buy (coffee) directly from farmers without having to go through brokers," he said.

Gachagua said the cartel was also behind an opinion survey that portrayed some government officials as non-performers.

He said he was committed to empowering coffee, tea, macadamia and others, in Meru and other parts of the country.

Gachagua has had the added role of spearheading efforts to empower farmers, a role he said he, President Ruto and Linturi were keen to succeed in.

"I am doing my work. I should be rated with the president because I am his (principal) assistant. If you rate the president with A, I should also get a rating of A. You cannot separate the presidency," he stated.