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KDF wants sale of Kenya Meat halted

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Steers are moved using a forklift at the Kenya Meat Commission's (KMC) Athi River plant in Machakos on April 4, 2017. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | NMG

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Summary

  • The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) wants the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) removed from the list of key parastatals earmarked for privatisation.
  • The Ministry of Defence has written to the Privatisation Commission to exempt the meat processor from State-owned enterprises that Cabinet approved for sale.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) wants the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) removed from the list of key parastatals earmarked for privatisation.

The Ministry of Defence has written to the Privatisation Commission to exempt the meat processor from State-owned enterprises that Cabinet approved for sale.

“Last month, we received a letter from the Ministry of Defence asking that we remove the Kenya Meat Commission from the list of the privatisation programme,” Privatisation Commission chief executive Joseph Koskey told the Finance Committee.

The KDF is set to inject cash to revive the ailing meat plant after the Treasury allocated Sh4 billion under the supplementary budget.

The State pumped Sh80 million into the KMC factory last financial year and a similar amount in the current year for the refurbishment of the Athi River-based meat processor.

In 2016, the government allocated Sh650 million for laying off of staff and an upgrade of the Athi-River based abattoir.

The KDF took control of the cash-strapped meat firm following an order from President Uhuru Kenyatta.

KMC was transferred to the KDF last September to boost operations and survival of the cash-strapped State-owned meat processor.

The government had previously announced that it would commence the process of selling KMC following the formation of a task force to come up with a privatisation plan.

KMC is among 26 parastatals earmarked for sale to strategic investors. The State reckons that privatisation will make KMC economically viable and boost the export of animal products.

Following Mr Kenyatta’s order, Agriculture Secretary Peter Munya directed Livestock PS Harry Kimtai to facilitate the transfer of KMC to the military.

The directive was, however, challenged after the Law Society of Kenya filed a petition court contesting the legality of the transfer of KMC to Kenya Defence Forces.

The lawyers’ lobby had argued that the responsibilities of the parastatal could not be transferred without an amendment to the Kenya Meat Commission Act.

The court in February issued a ruling directing the Ministry of Agriculture and the Attorney-General to regularise the transfer of the KMC to the military within 90 days.

Justice Anthony Mrima ruled that the transfer violated Article 10 of the Constitution for lack of public participation.

The President, through an Executive Order, reassigned the ministerial roles of KMC from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to the KDF, which falls under the Defence ministry in a bid to give the cash-strapped State-owned firm a lifeline.