New coffee guideline hurt 'chairman' during elections

Sunday July 17 2016

Farmers from Kagunyo coffee factory protest in Mukurweini town after their candidate Mr Thandi Njogu, leading on the left, was declared unfit to vie during Rumukia Coffee Society's elections for the chairman on July 15, 2016. Mr James Wahogo was declared the chairman. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Farmers from Kagunyo coffee factory protest in Mukurweini town after their candidate Mr Thandi Njogu, leading on the left, was declared unfit to vie during Rumukia Coffee Society's elections for the chairman on July 15, 2016. Mr James Wahogo was declared the chairman. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By IRENE MUGO
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Drama marred the election of the chairman of Rumukia Coffee Society after a contestant for the seat was declared unfit to hold the post due to a criminal case.

Mr Thadi Njogu was pronounced unfit by the area’s district cooperative officer (DCO) Mr Hesbon Kiura saying he has a pending criminal case.
"We are still investigating his case," he said.

His dismissal was effected from a section of the Cooperative Act that prevents any person who has been detained for more than three months to become chairman.

Mr Thadi had earlier been convicted and detained over a family land dispute

He was contesting against the cooperatives chairman Mr James Wahogo, who was reinstated unopposed.

In the 30-minute elections, the supporters of either leaders almost traded barbs with the losing team accusing the society’s management of failure to follow the law.

In a guideline provided by the county agriculture executive Robert Thuo to the Cooperative Act, anyone vying for a chairman’s position in a coffee society must provide a certificate of Good conduct and tax compliance.

This, according to Mr Thuo, is to curb coffee theft.

The chairman of any coffee society could also be required to provide the cooperative’s committee with some of their personal belongings to serve as collateral for any damage during his tenure in any coffee society.

This comes after 40 bags of parchment were recently stolen in a coffee factory in Tambaya, Mukurweini constituency in the county.

It is also after President Uhuru Kenyatta formed a coffee taskforce to rid woes that hurt the farmer in the sector.

However, the good conduct certificate presented to the society's management by Mr Thadi, issued by the directorate of Criminal Investigation was questioned over susceptible forgery.

"We do not issue good conduct certificates to individuals who are under investigation," said the DCO.

Eight coffee factories that deliver their coffee to Rumukia coffee society are yet to receive their payment.

It is said the society's management lacked quorum delaying the release of the payment rates.

The chairman however said that was not a deterrent as they are waiting for two out of the eight coffee factories to wind up selling their coffee "so that we can come up with a standard rate to be able to pay the farmers."

Last month, the society was engaged in a similar tussle over the chairman, Mr Wahogo, who was accused of embezzling funds amounting to Sh7.1 million.

This year, the society made a turnover of over Sh54 million and hopes to release the rate at Sh65.

Mr Thadi was also accused of taking advantage of the elderly to protest.

The farmers vowed to cut down their coffee bushes and will also boycott delivering coffee to the society.