The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) Holdings Limited Headquarters (Farmers Building along Moi Avenue in Nairobi) was on Friday afternoon raided by individuals who presented themselves as police officers.
According to reports, KTDA officials found in the building were barred from leaving, while no one from outside was allowed to access the building.
“They have appeared at the offices with an Order from a Magistrate’s court (Misc. Application No. E1248 of 2021), notwithstanding the existence of a High Court of Kenya Order (Petition No. E254 of 2020) restraining such an action,” KTDA said in a statement.
“The officers have held KTDA staff and barricaded them on the respective floors. The building entry and exits have been blocked denying the employees of their constitutional freedoms.”
It is not yet clear what the raid was about.
However, this comes a month after President Uhuru Kenyatta gave an Executive Order that directed elections to be held in all the 54 factories countrywide in 60 days.
It was reported that a section of members were opposed to the move, with two former directors perceived to be opposed to reforms in the agriculture sector being summoned by police to record statements.
Other directors are said to be opposed to the reforms proposed by the President and Agriculture CS Peter Munya, maintaining that on KTDA can call for elections.
In response, KTDA directors vowed to boycott tea factory elections, ordering farmers to stay away from polls.
Samuel Mwafrika, one of 18 directors at the Kathangariri Tea Factory, told local media, “Only KTDA is mandated to call elections and therefore we shall not participate in the ones ordered by the government.”
The Tea Act assigns factory oversight to the newly re-established Kenya Tea Board. KTDA currently manages most of the country’s 69 farmer-owned factories, which are situated in 16 counties. KTDA contends that special elections can only be called by local farmers, not from Nairobi.
Kenyatta argues that the elections are essential to implement Tea Act reforms. He tasked regional coordinators in the Central, Eastern, Nyanza, and Rift Valley to ensure compliance.
“We are entertaining zero chance that the tea reforms will flop. We have a duty to restore hopes of 600, 000 farmers…,” Central Region coordinator Wilfred Nyagwanga told the Nation.
KTDA with a membership of 600,000 is run by small scale tea farmers. The agency was initially run by government but was privatized in the year 2000.