KTDA ELECTIONS: Tea farmers want system used to elect KTDA directors changed

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A farmer picking tea in Meru. PHOTO/COURTESY

By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
newsdesk@reporter.co.ke

Tea farmers from different parts of the country want the system for electing directors of the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) changed saying it discriminates some parts of the country.

Mr David Shigoli from Kakamega County said the current system of electing KTDA directors is lopsided as it favours areas with more tea factories.

“We want this system changed so as it can stop giving incumbent KTDA directors an advantage,” he said.

More than 600,000 tea farmers participated in the polls to elect new directors for the 54 Tea factories managed by KTDA Management Services Limited. In 37 electoral areas, candidates went in unopposed.

The annual elections were conducted in 106 electoral areas of the 53 tea factory companies, with shareholders of each factory required to elect two of six directors who are on rotation.

The tea farmers elect one-third of factory company directors on rotation and the candidates are subject to the nomination process according to Company Act 2015.

The annual poll is part of the factory corporate governance process that requires shareholders to elect representatives to their boards.

Kenya Tea Development Agency CEO Lerionka Tiampati. PHOTO/COURTESY

The elections are held prior to the factory AGMs scheduled to start on November 8.
The AGMs are being held earlier than the traditional date of January in line with new guidelines of the Companies Act 2015 which require a company to hold its AGM within six months of the end of their financial year.

Mr Shigoli who said he was speaking on behalf of hundreds of tea farmers in Kakamega County said a report by the Taskforce Report on Tea Industry appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016 had made far-reaching recommendations that had not been implemented.

He said among the taskforce proposals was the restructuring of the KTDA and review of its contracts with farmers; reduction of levies and the establishment of a regulator for the industry, years after a similar body was scrapped.

The task force’s report also recommended the review of governance of the small-scale tea subsector, particularly in terms of employees of KTDA (MS) and directors of KTDA Holdings being board members of tea factories which are independent.

“The thorny issues raised in the report was lack of competitive bidding in the appointment of management agents for over 50 tea factories owned by about 600,000 small-scale farmers across the country,” he said.

Mr Shigoli said there will be no transparency in the management KTDA affairs until the system of electing KTDA directors is changed.

KTDA chairman Peter Tirus Kanyago

Tea farmers on Tuesday elect directors for the factories managed by KTDA Management Services Ltd around the country.

The tea sector, which has been facing headwinds, gave tea farmers, who are the factory shareholders, a chance to elect one-third of KTDA directors since they are supposed to retire on rotation every year.

The KTDA-managed tea factory company directors elections are held every three years where a director who has been in office for that period seeks a fresh mandate from the electorate.

In Muranga, during the elections held on November 6, Kiru Tea Factory chairman Stephen Maina Githiga retained the position against Wagana Maigua by garnering 23,023 shares against 6,274.

Farmers also elected Francis Chege Kimari, a former chief executive of Stancom Tobacco Company in Thika, who beat Edward Ngumo. Samuel Kiige of Gatunguru Tea Factory emerged the victor to represent Kihoya electoral area by garnering 16,381 to his rival Charles Mwangi who garnered 13,361 votes.

Mr Mwangi takes over from the longtime director Samuel Muchunu who did not defend his seat. All other directors from the Murang’a factories of Kanyenyaini, and Gatunguru were re-elected.

In Kisii, Kiamokama shareholders sent two of their directors home while Nyamache and Ogembo re-elected their directors. Gianchore’s chairman Eucabeth Ogwaro was re-elected after garnering 19,369 votes against her rivals Thomas Ochaba’s 7,475 and John Moriasi’s 6,089 votes. Joseph Bogonko,, representing Ngenyi electoral area also retained his position of director.

Kebirigo Tea Factory shareholders sent home director Job Ondari who garnered 7,924 votes against his challenger’s 9,427 votes. Charles Ongera comes in as a new director of the Factory.

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