A Murang’a tea factory owned by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has opposed the agency’s choice of lawyers to represent it in a suit challenging reforms by Agriculture Secretary Peter Munya on the tea sector.
KTDA had written to Gacharage Tea factory seeking approval for the services of the law firm of Ngatia and Associate to represent it in the suit at a fee it did not disclose.
But the tea factory in a letter addressed to KTDA on Tuesday objected to the move-a, saying small scale tea factories have lost money in the past when the law firm was contracted to represent them.
“Previous experiences show exorbitant charges were incurred when the law firm was contracted to challenge the case that barred newly elected directors from assuming office,” said Gacharage Tea factory in the letter. “The case cost the farmers a whooping Sh70 million. Information in the public domain intimates that the anticipated case will cost Sh80 million.”
The new regulations reduce KTDA’s role in tea export, dilute its control of 69 factories and cap the management fee that the agency levies on farmer-owned factories at two percent from the current 2.5 percent.
KTDA has moved to court and obtained orders stopping the newly appointed committee on the implementation of tea reforms from commencing work, pending hearing of the case.
The timelines published by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) intend to have the Crops (Tea Industry) Regulations, 2020 fully implemented by February next year.
Irungu Nyakera, who is a member of the implementation team, has also opposed the plans by KTDA to hire a law firm to challenge Mr Munya’s tea sector reforms. Mr Nyakera, in a separate letter to Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, called for an independent investigation to unravel the mystery behind exorbitant spending on lawyers in cases at the agency.
“Should your good office find any evidence of loss of funds by farmers under funny self-enrichment schemes by these individuals, we demand that the culprits be immediately prosecuted for economic crimes and embezzlement of public funds,” said Mr Nyakera.