September 21st 2017

Top Stories / National

Murang'a farmers launch war with President Kenyatta over KCC

The farmers say that, for all his rhetoric about creating jobs for the youths, President Uhuru Kenyatta is more preoccupied with helping his close associates feather their nests, and Mr Wamae was too old to continue in a job that young people could do better.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 20 Jul 2017 10:18 EAT

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto addressing Murang'a residents at Ihura stadium last month.

From the look of things, concerned residents of Central Kenya have begun to take the battle for the survival of their dairy sector to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s doorstep.

And once again, the war is being led by Muranga residents who two months ago staged a coup from right under Uhuru’s nose by handing decisive victory to Governor Mwangi wa Iria in the Jubilee Party nominations.

Mr Wa Iria floored Uhuru Kenyatta’s favoured candidate Jamleck Kamau, the Kigumo MP, and handed the ticket to a governor the Jubilee establishment had fought for four long years, over, his activities in the milk sector.

Dairy farmers from Muranga County have now moved to court seeking the removal of KCC chairman Matu Wamae from the position, saying he is too old to perform his duties and is the beneficiary of illegal appointments by former Presidents Mwai Kibaki and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The farmers say that, for all his rhetoric about creating jobs for the youths, President Uhuru Kenyatta is more preoccupied with helping his close associates feather their nests, and Mr Wamae was too old to continue in a job that young people could do better.

It is widely understood that the chairman’s ill performance in affecting the farmers’ stake in the milk sector, where the Kenyatta family holds sway following their consolidation of the market by buying out rivals and bringing them under their entity Brookside.

Mr Wamae, 78, has been in office since 2005, when he was appointed to the position by Kibaki, who renewed his initial three-year tenure in 2008 and 2011. President Uhuru Kenyatta again renewed the former Mathira MP’s tenure in 2013 and 2017.

However, this year’s renewal broke the camel’s back for the Muranga farmers, who feel there was a sense of entitlement in Mr Wamae’s appointment, which they say is also illegal. The veteran politician has stuck to office despite legal requirements that chairmen of public corporations retire at 60 years.

That law was reaffirmed as recently as January when good governance campaigner Okiya Omtata successfully challenged the appointment of Kenya Power chairman Dr Ben Chumo.

Mr Wamae’s position has been used by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s critics in Central Kenya who say the Jubilee administration was operating like a perfect cartel. “No one can believe that from the thousands of people we have in Central Kenya, even from Mathira itself, the president can only see a frail mzee who should be enjoying retirement in the company of his great grandchildren. It makes absolute nonsense of promises to the youth,” wrote Michael Wainaina.

In suit papers filed by MMC Africa Advocates, the farmers through lawyer Peter Munge say the law requires the president to competitively recruit for the position of KCC chairman. “The president should have been guided by the principle of fair competition and merit as the basis for appointment to New KCC.

“His decision locked out young and qualified people who would have steered and guided the corporation well.

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