Politics and policy
Chamber members elect new officials
Posted Monday, June 18 2012 at 20:14
The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry has finally held its national elections, hoping to end the boardroom wrangles that have dogged the organisation since 2007.
Radio Africa Group chairman Kiprono Kittony and Laban Onditi were elected national chairperson and vice chairperson after they garnered 263 and 290 votes respectively at a special general meeting held in Nairobi on Monday.
“We will assist the government in promoting trade, thus resulting in the development of an economy which is export-led, for the generation of the much needed foreign exchange,” Mr Kittony said in a statement.
The elections initially scheduled for April were postponed to ‘make it all inclusive and provide time for wrangling parties to withdraw all cases filed in court,’ according to Walter Ookok of the Kenya Private Sector Association , which was overseeing the polls.
Delegates from 42 counties across Kenya participated, but Mr Kittony and Mr Onditi technically sailed through unopposed.
Barred from contesting
One candidate seeking the position of chair was barred from contesting after a cheque for Sh50,000 he wrote as payment of nomination fees bounced. Another contender for the vice chair seat was also prohibited from running after he failed to pay the statutory Sh30,000 nomination fee.
The Chamber acts as an entry point for any investor wishing to set up base in Kenya as it provides local and foreign trade references; information on trade and licensing and also keeps a national directory of businesses.
Efforts to revive the institution began in 2010 when then Trade minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere tasked the Kenya Private Sector Association to assist in reforming the organisation and help it reclaim its position as a the link between Kenyan businesses and overseas markets.
To cushion it from future protracted leadership wrangles, the KNCCI last year adopted a new constitution and Memorandum and Articles of Association that provides in-house dispute resolution mechanisms and devolves responsibilities to the county level.
“We are going to work with small and medium enterprises in promotion, marketing, training and funding of such businesses at both county and national governments,” said Mr Onditi.
The trade support institution established in 1965 has been dysfunctional for the past two decades costing local businesses representation at international trade forums such as the on-going World Trade Organisation Doha Development Round on reforming the international trading system.
The leadership mess prompted the government to strip off the KNCCI its role of issuing export quality control licences which was its key source of income.
Its membership has plunged from a high of 10,000 in the early 1990s to the current 4000 members, seriously denting its credibility and denying its revenue. The Chamber owns Ufanisi House along Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi.
The Chamber last held polls in April 2007 but was contested and was scheduled to be repeated a month later but the association was bogged down by political interference, internal wrangles and multiple court cases.