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KTDA boss Tiampati exits firm under a cloud of investigations

BUSINESS
By Dominic Omondi | September 10th 2021

Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings Ltd Group CEO Lerionka Tiampati during a press conference in Nairobi on  September 3, 2019. [David Njaaga,Standard]

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) chief executive Lerionka Tiampati has bowed out after six years at the top of the company.

His exit follows a purge instituted by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya that culminated in the setting up of a new board, which sent the CEO and five other top officials on compulsory leave in June last year, to pave way for investigations.

The board yesterday announced that Tiampati has left the company effective September 9 after the end of his compulsory leave.

“Tiampati applied for an early exit before the expiry of his contract and this was approved by the board this week,” said the board in a statement to newsrooms.

The position has since been filled by Wilson Muthaura in an acting capacity.

KTDA group head of corporate affairs Ndiga Kithae said Tiampati’s exit had nothing to do with the investigations and that it was his decision to resign.

On the fate of the remaining five officials, Kithae said there was nothing to add.

“At this stage, there is nothing new beyond that. The others are still on compulsory leave, or they are on leave,” Kithae said.

Tiampati joined KTDA in 2004 as the managing director of Kenya Tea Packers Ltd (Ketepa), a subsidiary that is majority-owned by KTDA.

KTDA got a new board earlier this year following elections as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

At the beginning of last year, the Head of State called for the restructuring of KTDA to address the low tea prices, delayed payments and fluctuations in net income for tea farmers.

“It is clear the governance of KTDA and entire marketing of tea will require to be restructured if we are to ensure our tea farmers get more revenue from their tea sales,” said President Kenyatta.

He said rather than farmers earning about Sh91 per kilo of tea, they were earning Sh41, with Sh50 shillings per kilo going to brokers and middlemen.

During its first meeting, the board decided that Tiampati and five senior managers would have to vacate their positions to pave way for investigations on various allegations including abuse of office.

The five managers included company secretary John Omanga, managing director Alfred Njagi, finance and strategy director Benson Ngari and ICT general manager David Mbugua.

“The following senior managers will immediately proceed on compulsory leave to allow for the necessary investigations and determination of culpability for any malpractices and possible abuse of office,” said the chair of the new board, David Ichocho.

In a separate statement, the outgoing board dismissed the decision, saying the new board had no mandate to undertake any function at the agency. 

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