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Traders in fight with sacco over miraa cash

By Wainaina Ndung'u | June 26th 2020

A miraa lobby group has gone to court to stop the government from using one umbrella sacco to disburse funds under a government capitalised credit scheme for the sub-sector.

The Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) has sued the Head of Public Service, the Attorney General, and the Agriculture and Finance Cabinet secretaries.

In the petition filed in the High Court in Meru, Nyamita, which is represented by lawyer Lucas Kobia, has also named the commissioner of co-operatives, Mwenge Miraa Sacco and the County Government of Meru as interested parties in the suit.

The matter was certified as urgent and hearing set for July 15.

Nyamita officials Kimathi Munjuri, Jacob Miriti and Naftali Kathurima claim that the Agriculture ministry illegally picked Mwenge Sacco as the sole disbursement agency without public participation and due process.

The lobby also claims that officials from the Co-operatives ministry are using public funds to help the sacco recruit members in breach of the Public Officer Ethics Act, and Code of Conduct.

"We are apprehensive that public funds meant for a well-structured scheme may be lost if put in an unknown private entity picked without public participation."

Court orders

Nyamita also claims that the respondents are in breach of court orders issued in 2017 providing for its involvement and that of the Meru County Government in projects involving the sub-sector.

The lobby wants the Agriculture ministry barred from disbursing the funds to Mwenge Sacco as the umbrella sacco for onward lending to farmers and other value chain stakeholders.

"This application is brought by the virtue that officers from the ministry ought to conduct due diligence in matters concerning public or public finances."

According to ministry officials, Sh180 million is available for the miraa credit scheme in the 2019/20 budget. It was envisaged that half of that amount would go to muguka farmers under the Mbeerembu Muguka Farmers Sacco, which is the umbrella sacco for the muguka sub-sector in Embu.

The other half intended for the miraa sub-sector is what is now under the purview of the High Court.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya recently admitted that Mwenge Sacco is associated with the Party of National Unity, saying there was nothing wrong with that. 

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