The High Court in Murang’a has ordered the Auditor General to conduct an independent audit on tea earnings, bonuses and the produce supplied to the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) in 2018 and 2019.
Judge Kanyi Kimondo gave the order Monday after Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria sought orders to make public the accounts of the KTDA after what he said is continued reduction of the tea earnings and failure by the agency to make the accounts public.
In the petition, Mr Wa Iria, suing on behalf of Murang’a County government, wants the accounts of the agency made public, claiming that there are already doubts of the reports by KTDA.
In the petition the county government states that there has been unexplained substantial drop in tea payments amounting to Sh2.6 billion, which is 36 percent, from Sh11.2 billion in 2018 to Sh8.9 billion this year, informing the decision to seek for an independent audit.
Represented by six lawyers, the county said it would foot the bill for the independent audit since it represents the farmers.
Led by Mr Charles Njenga, the lawyers told the court that the issue is of public interest and that if not looked at, farmers are likely to uproot the tea bushes and thus affect the economy of the country.
“This is a serious problem and if not addressed [it] will force farmers to continue uprooting tea and this will negatively affect the economy of the country given that tea farming contributes to four per cent of the country’s GDP,” Mr Njenga told the court.
While certifying the matter as urgent, Justice Kimondo noted that sections 228 and 229 of the Constitution give the Auditor General powers to audit and report any entity that is financed using public funds.
“I urge the auditor general of republic of Kenya to consider carrying out an independent audit on the tea earnings, bonuses and the produce supplied to KTDA in the year 2019 and that the copy of the same [be] filed in this court,” the judge ordered.
He directed that the respondents to be served with the documents before October 28 during the inter partes hearing.
Led by the governor, close to a thousand tea farmers flocked the law courts on Monday.
They later walked to Ihura Stadium where the governor said he had initiated a move to establish what has been going on in the tea sector for ages.
“The audit report is a milestone in seeking a solution to farmers’ woes in this country. I believe the report and the petition will unearth what has been happening in KTDA and we shall see the light,” said Mr Wa Iria.