Tea factory directors face opposition in elections

When tea farmers in Kisii County showed solidarity in support of their newly elected Director Professor Stephen Bogonko on May 7, 2021.[Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Campaigns for the director positions have intensified following the decision by the Tea Board of Kenya to set the elections end of June.

This has seen three camps emerge in the last two weeks in the quest to have their candidates clinch the positions in tea-growing counties.

Insiders in the tea sector say the campaigns have been intensified with the contestants organising farmers' groups and visiting religious and social functions in the villages to win support.

Peter Njogo, an expert in tea sector politics, said former directors are seeking to return to the factory boards as the incumbent put up a spirited fight to defend the seats. 

He noted that contestants have mounted well-oiled campaigns in Nyeri, Muranga and Kirinyaga counties.

Njogo said matters have been complicated by the entry of the youth perceived to be backed by their parents to take control of the tea sector.

“In all the 34 factories around Mt Kenya region where youth are moving around complying with the requirements ready to contest the directorship election,” he said.

At Makomboki Tea Factory in Kigumo, Murang’a, the directors led by their chairman Njiiri Kimemia and his Vice Mbote Mwangi, on Monday camped at Kanderendu Dispensary to witness the Safaricom Foundation handing over maternity equipment.

During the donation, the current and former directors lauded the initiative of Makomboki Tea Factory Director Faith Maina, who approached Safaricom Foundation to support the maternity programme with equipment after it stalled four decades ago.

Njiiri said the director will work towards mobilising resources from tea buyers through the Fairtrade programme to have the community project completed.

“It has been a while, but the directors are working hard to have the maternity project completed,” said Njiiri.

Joseph Nduati, a resident of Kanderundu village, pleaded with TBK to stop imposing the former directors, saying in the past three years, a positive transformation has been achieved in the sector.

“The farmers are ready to make their verdict at the election without any intimidation,” said Nduati.

At the Kimotho electoral area, former director James Muchai campaigned against the incumbent Mbote, the vice chairman at the Makomboki Tea Factory. 

At Kanderundu, Ms Maina, will face Kinuthia Gitonga and former director Samuel Maina.

Makomboki Tea Factory chairman Njiiri Kimemia, at Gatia ini electoral area, will battle it out with former directors, Samuel Kiwiri and John Kamau.

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