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Standoff on team to push reform in miraa sub-sector

By Wainaina Ndung’u | Published Thu, May 24th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 23rd 2018 at 21:49 GMT +3
Workers harvest miraa at a farm near Kangeta market in Meru County. [File, Standard]

The composition of a team that will spearhead proposed reforms in the miraa sub-sector appears to have hit a stalemate due to turf wars among leading Meru politicians.

After the postponement of two meetings planned to launch the new team, the Ministry of Agriculture was yesterday mum about when the event is likely to take place.

Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe did not pick calls, but sent a text message saying he was unable to speak yesterday.

Earlier launches of the team on March 29 and May 2, this year, were cancelled at the last minute over disagreements on who should sit in the team that will be in charge of Sh2.2 billion budgetary allocations held at the National Treasury.

Insiders in the sub-sector blamed political turf wars for the stalemate, saying Igembe North MP Maore Maoka and Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi appear to have sharply differed over who should sit in the committee.

Maore and three other Meru legislators have been offered a slot each for nominees while the county government of Meru and Embu have been offered four slots each.

But some of the leaders, including Maore, claim the Meru County Government had sought to nominate an extra four members, bringing its nominees to eight.

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Maore has insisted that it would be conflict of interest to have members of the task force which wrote the report being the ones to implement.

But Meru County Secretary Rufus Miriti claimed the ministry was justified to retain a few members for institutional memory.

Sources knowledgeable on the intrigues on composition of the team claimed that Kiraitu’s government was furious that the Maore group appeared keen to dictate who should be in the committee.

 “This team is a national government project and no one has the right to dictate who will be in it,” said the county secretary after May 2 launch was called off.

Igembe Central MP Kubai Kiringo, who is one of the four Meru legislators who have been offered a chance to nominate a member, had allegedly also picked the former task force co-chair Geoffrey Mwenda Nchoro while his Igembe South counterpart John Paul Mwirigi has been lauded by many for nominating miraa activist Saikinjo Munjuri.

Maore and Senator Mithika Linturi’s nominees are yet to be disclosed and the two were not available for comment yesterday.

Task force

Miraa farmer and Igembe Central politician James Mithika yesterday supported Maore’s stand that former members of the task force must be kept out of the new team.

“The team must also be careful not to mix up miraa issues with those of Muguka (grown in Embu) because leaders from that area are free to lobby for their Treasury allocation,” warned Mithika.


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