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Blow as two tea reformists die in a fortnight

By Boniface Gikandi | August 25th 2021


A Tea plantation farm in Kericho County [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Two reformists in the tea sector in Murang'a County have died in just two weeks. Paul Kagema, who was a board member at Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) representing Zone Two (Thika) with tea factories in Gatanga, Kandara, and Kigumo, died a week ago.

Kagema, who was also the chairman at Gacharage Tea Factory, was buried on Saturday at this home in Kamukambi, Kigumo Constituency.

And on Friday, Makomboki Tea Factory lost its chairman Moffat Hudson Mbue who was rated highly in the liberation of the tea sector, a fight he picked 19 years ago.

Mbue was among the farmers who kept the former directors of their factory on their toes with a long-running court case at the High Court in Nyeri.

KTDA Holdings Chairman David Ichohi said the two deaths are a big blow to the industry, noting that they were a source of immense wisdom.

Mr Ichohi said elections will be conducted later at Gacharage and Makomboki tea factories to replace the leaders.

“We are in shock following the loss of our two brave directors who stood for the truth. Mbue has been fighting for the interest of the tea farmers for 19 years, but he is gone six months after he assumed office as chairman of Makomboki factory,” he said.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya eulogised the two as individuals who supported the government's initiative towards the implementation of the regulations that ushered new leaders at KTDA.

He said Kagema remained critical as he articulated the need for reforms in the sector.

“After he joined the farmers seeking reforms in the sector, Kagema was elected with majority votes at his zone and reelected as chairman of his factory, and subsequently elected as the director at the national board," said the CS.

Tea Sector Lobby Chairman Irungu Nyakera said the death of the two was a loss to the sector.

At the introduction of regulations in the tea sector, Munya said last year that it was Mbue who advised on how they can use a loophole of postponing general meetings to call for special general meetings in all factories and institute changes.

“This Mzee was full of wisdom. He showed us many shortcuts to deal with the emerging issues in the sector,” said Munya.

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