Miraa farmers move to stop work of task force

By: ELVIS ONDIEKI

Confusion on whether or not the High Court issued a stop order has halted the operation of a taskforce formed in May to advise on how to revive the dwindling fortunes of miraa business.

Six months after it was gazetted by acting Agriculture Cabinet secretary Adan Mohamed, the 10-member team is yet to get financial allocation from the ministry, and it has held only one meeting despite the fact that it is to remain in force for a year.

The reason for the team’s stillbirth is confusion on whether Justice George Odunga issued an order to stop funding to the taskforce after a group of miraa traders went to court, saying all matters relating to crops are reserved for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (Affa) and not any other taskforce.

The Kenya Miraa Farmers and Traders Association (Kemifata), in a suit filed a few days after the taskforce was gazetted, argued that operations of the team would cost the taxpayer an unnecessary Sh600 million doing a job that is under the mandate of Affa.

Kemifata also said the appointments to the taskforce were political.

After Kemifata argued its case for the first time before Justice Odunga on May 29, the court’s deputy registrar extracted an order from the proceedings which the judge would later say was inadvertent.

“Leave so granted do operate as a stay any allocation disbursement or funding of the taskforce” read part of the order.

Parties in the case interpreted it as a command to stop disbursement. But another miraa farmers’ group, the Nyambene Miraa Trade Association (Nyamita), sought a clarification on the matter.

The question of whether or not the court gave blessings to the funding of the taskforce seemed not to have been solved by that order.

It prompted the Nyambene traders’ group to write to the Attorney-General seeking a clarification on the matter.

“It is our submission that the true position of the matter is that the stay of allocation of funds to the taskforce does not exist as Justice Odunga clarified in court on June 16, 2015, in the presence of able officers from your office, and through a subsequent order,” they stated in their August 21 letter.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION