Tea factories directors gear up for elections

KTDA chairman Enos Njeru, Tea Board of Kenya Chairman Jacob Kahiu and KTDA Director James Githinji. [Boniface Gikandi, Standard] 

Campaign fever has hit the Mount Kenya region as contestants seeking top leadership positions in the tea sector seek support of residents.

The Tea Board of Kenya set the elections for tea factory directors for the end of June.

Speaking in Kirinyaga, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the elections must be held before June 30.

But factory directors who claim to have been caught off guard, say they are ready for the polls and will campaign on the platform of tea reforms implemented in the last three years.  

There are 12 zones, out of which three have ratified the election manual by the Tea Board of Kenya. 

KTDA directors John Mithamo (Ndima), James Githinji (Ngere), Gerald Ngumba (Ikumbi), Nahason Ngari (Mununga), and Joe Mahugu (Nduti) said they are ready for the election.

They are banking on tea reforms, better monthly green leaf payments, and increased annual bonus payments among others to win the election.

Ngari said the timelines were short for the electoral body to register the farmers and establish the electoral boundaries, as the factories have not factored in the budgets.

“Despite the out-of-court settlement that resolved the election must be held by June 30, it is now clear that date is no longer tenable as some factories have not ratified the election manual,” he said.

Mahugu and Ngumba said directors of the 10 tea factories in Murang’a  are ready for the polls and will adhere to the government regulations.

Mahugu, the vice chairman at Nduti tea factory said the election should be conducted as per the factory’s Memorandum of Association to enhance fairness.

“We are waiting for the election date to be announced and we will start our campaigns where we shall engage with the growers as we have been in the past three years,” said Mahugu.

In the ratified election manual, the electoral body to be nominated by the regulator shall vet all candidates for eligibility. The candidates are expected to pay Sh10,000 fee into the factory bank accounts.

Githinji who is the KTDA Board Member in Murang'a and vice chairman at Ngere tea factory, said in the last three years, farmers have enjoyed increased monthly payments from Sh16 to Sh25 per kilogram of green leaf.

“We have moved the sector to more transparency where the farmers are involved in all the decision making through tea buying centres meetings,” he said. 

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