The long-standing battle over control of the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) looks set to continue as a recent High Court statement which has ruled that the recent elections should be considered null and void.
The elections have been a cause for contempt amongst rival factions, with claim and counterclaim being alleged about their legality.
Mr Justice Weldon Korir, however, has attempted to settle that debate once and for all, claiming it was an unlawful process as it did not involve a permanent member of the much-troubled coffee firm.
Therefore, it has been decreed that the directors – who were appointed whilst KPCU went through a restructuring phase after a period of financial instability – were only there on an interim basis, and weren’t mandated to oversee structured internal affairs.
The large-scale union was placed under external management in 2009 when the company was crippled with debts in the region of $7 million.
What then transpired is rather murky to say the least and has threatened to place a black cloud over parts of Kenya’s coffee industry.
The Union’s members voted and elected a number of people to senior positions and when some local government members raised concerns about the situation, a game of mudslinging occurred.
In his closing notes, Mr Justice Korir said that the hastily hosted elections were the culmination of “an illegal and unlawful process that conferred authority on the new managers elected in a process which did not involve all the stakeholders.”
However to further muddy the waters it appears that members of the Kenyan government were implicated in the affair and wanted.
Gakoi Mwangi, who represented the elected members, claimed that two government members had been trying to convene clandestine meetings.
“The government had no role, duty or authority [over the] KPCU,” Mwangi said.
It wasn’t the first time that the government had been called out over their actions regarding the Union. Previously, Joseph Kioko, a managing director of the KPCU, proclaimed that they wanted “the Cabinet secretary, the principal secretary and the commissioner of co-operatives to declare the interests they have in the election.”
This battle will likely rumble on and on.