The High Court on Friday stopped the newly appointed committee on the implementation of tea reforms from commencing its work, pending the hearing of a case filed by Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).
Justice Pauline Nyamweya ruled that KTDA Holdings, though lawyer Benson Millimo, had met the threshold for an arguable case against Agriculture CS Peter Munya.
The judge noted that the tenure of the National Steering Committee on the Implementation of tea reforms was four months but its implementation was continuous in nature. She said unless the status quo is maintained, KTDA’s case may be rendered useless, in light of the limited implementation period set for the Committee.
“To this extent I find that the ex parte applicant (KTDA) has met the threshold of an arguable case and is therefore entitled to the leave sought to commence judicial review proceedings against the respondent,” the judge said.
In a gazette notice dated June, 25, Mr Munya appointed a 10-member committee to look into reforms in the tea sector. The committee’s mandate includes to manage and coordinate processes and implementation of the tea sector reforms, including changes in the role of KTDA in the management of small-scale tea growers.
But in an affidavit Dr John Kennedy Omanga, KTDA’s Company Secretary said the agency is a private company and Mr Munya has no legal right to make changes in its business operations.
Mr Millimo further said that some of the persons appointed by Munya have publicly pronounced themselves adversely against KTDA, while others have cases pending in court on matters relating to the operations of the agency. Others, he added, have broken contractual relationship with KTDA.
“Therefore the said members are so conflicted and unfit to preside over any issues relating to the applicant,” he argued.
He said the CS had directed public funds be spent on the committee, a move he termed illegal because no law grants him powers to appropriate public funds belonging to the Agricultural Food and Fisheries Authority. The case will be mentioned on September 21.