No proxy voting in elections of key tea body in reforms push

A worker at Iriani Tea Factory in Othaya, Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

No proxy votes will be allowed at the Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) elections for representatives of small scale farmers on Wednesday.

Board’s Acting CEO Peris Mudida had on November 1 written to delegates informing them that they could either vote in person or through proxy votes exercised through nominating another delegate from their block to vote on their behalf through a proxy form.

“The proxy forms duly signed by the delegate should be presented to the Board in hard or soft copy by 5.00 pm on Monday November 8, 2021,” Ms Mudida had notified the delegates.

But some of the candidates protested the attempt to allow proxy voting saying it was akin to a scheme to rig the elections saying it was ironical that proxy votes which had been banned in elections in the smallholder tea factories were being sneaked back for the sector regulator.

“We are relying on Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives, Requirements for Elections of Board Members of the Tea Board of Kenya which were copied to all delegates through a communication dated July 8, 2021,” one of the candidates wrote in a protest letter. “Section 3.4 and 3.5 deal with the election and voting processes and none of them makes a provision for to vote by proxy.”

Voting rights

On November 5, Regulations and Compliance manager Samuel Njane writing for Ms Mudida informed the delegates that no proxy voting will be allowed at the elections.

“Due to past misuse of proxies, and the fact that voting rights of the delegates have been given by small scale tea growers, voting by proxy shall not be allowed,” his letter reads in part. The elections for the sole representative of East of the Rift Valle farmers will take place at the Nokras Riverline in Sagana, Murang’a county.

The candidates are Francis Ndegwa Wanyaga nominated by Chinga Tea Factory in Nyeri, former factory director and Kinyona ward MCA Charles Mwangi Kirigwi who has been nominated by Ikumbi Tea Factory in Murang’a and Ms Florence Mutembei who has been nominated by Weru Tea Factory in Tharaka Nithi. All tea factory directors in the region that comprises of Kiambu, Murangá, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Narok are the delegates in the election.

West of the Rift Valley small and medium scale farmers will separately be electing their representative to the newly revived sector regulator.

Other representatives include one for the plantation growers nationally and a representative of the tea trade chain. There will be four government representatives appointed by the president.