New currency images face fresh opposition in High Court dispute


New look coins that were launched last week. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has gone to court seeking to stop Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) from further printing the new look currency.

In a suit filed under certificate of urgency, Cofek said the new look currency coins and notes were printed without public consultation as required by Article 10 of the Constitution.

Cofek secretary-general Stephen Mutoro said in a sworn statement that being a symbol of national unity, there should have been public participation on the images to be used with the respective values attached to various denominations.

It is his argument that CBK has no known legal and moral basis in the law to abrogate itself the power to singularly choose and impose the images it purports represent the aspirations of Kenyans, without offering them an opportunity to be directly involved.

He said allowing the choices made by CBK as though they were made by majority of Kenyans is an affront to the rule of law, constitutionality and the nationhood.

While launching the new look currency last week, CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge said the coins portray significant nuances of the country and will serve as a means of passing knowledge, conserving culture, and promoting Kenya’s global uniqueness.

He said CBK will soon roll out a campaign raising awareness, educating the public on the new coinage. According to CBK, the new coins will circulate alongside the old ones which have not been withdrawn. CBK has remained tight-lipped on the timelines for the new generation banknotes. The 2010 Constitution says Kenyan currency cannot bear the image individual

But Mr Mutoro said Cofek wrote to CBK on October 17, seeking wider public participation but the request was allegedly ignored. He wants the court CBK to be compelled to withdraw the ones that have been printed and conduct the process afresh.

The new look currency has been challenged several times as parties battled over who would print the currency before the Court of Appeal allowed British firm De La Rue to go ahead and print.

De La Rue International late November disclosed in the London Stock Exchange that it plans to deliver the first batch of the banknotes in the course of next year.

The UK security printer said it had signed a £85 million (Sh11.02 billion) deal with the CBK to print the new generation banknotes.

The deal was signed after the Court of Appeal’s October 12 verdict that allowed the CBK and De La Rue to go ahead and produce the new banknotes, overruling the High Court’s April 12 cancellation of the deal.

The battle has, however, gone to the Supreme Court after activist Okiya Omtatah challenged the decision by the Court of Appeal clearing the way for De La Rue International. The Appellate court overturned a decision nullifying the tender and said there was no collusion between De La Rue and CBK.

But Mr Omtatah said the Court of Appeal also misdirected itself by assuming and holding that the procuring entity (CBK) had the power to waive the requirement in law for prequalification and allow De La Rue to subcontract the tender to De La Rue Currency & Security Print Ltd and De La Rue EPZ Ltd.