The new Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) board took over office yesterday, suspending six senior managers and ordering a forensic audit of the operational and financial systems following a day-long crisis meeting.
However, the power struggle at KTDA is far from over as the outgoing board immediately claimed it was still in office and urged the public to disregard “illegitimate” actions by the new team.
The six managers sent on compulsory leave to pave way for the investigations are immediate former KTDA Chief Executive Officer Lerionka Tiampati, Company Secretary John Omanga, Managing Director Alfred Njagi, Finance and Strategy Director Benson Ngari, General Manager ICT David Mbugua and Head of Procurement and Logistics Brown Kanampiu.
Mr Simon Rugut was appointed the new acting Chief Executive Officer of KTDA, with the board saying the other vacant positions will be filled in due course to ensure continuity of service delivery. Mr Patrick Njungiri was appointed the Company acting Secretary. All this happened in the inaugural meeting following the election of the 12 directors last Friday. The new board is currently led by David Muni Ichoho, who will be deputised by Wesley Cheruiyot Koech.
The other directors are Michael Mwangi Ngatia, Paul Mwangi Kagema, Enos Njiru, John Mithamo, Geoffrey Chege, Abungana Khasiani, Erick Kipyegon,Thaddeus Mose Mangenya, James Ombasa and Baptista Kanyaru.
The leadership changes were effected in the CR12 at the Registrar of Companies. All the other staff of KTDA were assured of their jobs and urged to continue carrying out their duties as usual.
Speaking after the full day meeting that was guarded by police officers at the KTDA offices in Nairobi, Mr Ichoho said the farmers were frustrated by the former leadership that they elected the new team with ease last Friday.
He criticised their predecessors for disregarding the interests of farmers.
“It is against this backdrop that shareholders made a decision to exercise their rights to make leadership changes with a view of charting a new direction towards a sustainable and profitable farming in tea sub-sector for smallholders,” Mr Ichoho said.
The new board assured the over 680,000 tea farmers of better returns and quick release of their bonuses henceforth. They also vowed to ensure seamless and uninterrupted business operations and service delivery provision to farmers through managing the agency’s subsidiary; KTDA (MS) Limited.
But the outgoing board asked the public to disregard all the pronouncements, dismissing the newly elected officeholders as illegitimate without powers to act on behalf of KTDA.
It cited the issuance of conservatory orders by the Constitutional Court of the High Court in Mombasa and Nairobi restraining the elections of directors of tea factories.