Written by Rosemary Wachiye
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Sugar Cane famers at the pan Paper Stadium in Webuye where elections for district 1,4 and 5 were held with some from District 4 refuting them claiming they were not fairly held. Photos/ Rosemary Wachiye.
Sugarcane farmers from Bungoma County have dismissed the elections held last week to elect directors of the Nzoia Out growers Company (NOCO) to represent District 1, 4 and 5 terming the elections as malicious and misrepresenting views of farmers.
Sugarcane farmers under the Old NOCO had held elections to elect the new directors of as per a released court sanction that demanded the farmers to elect new directors 45 days from March 2012.
The elections were held at the Pan Paper Stadium in Webuye under the old NOCO headed by Mr. Joash Wamang’oli were carried out successfully with Mr. Christopher Sifuna, Mr. Joash Wamang’oli and Mr.Philemona Bitonyake being elected as directors for District 1, 4 and 5 respectively.
However, farmers from District 4 that includes Matisi, Bokoli, Kimilili, Misikhu and Sirisia complained of being left out during the meeting and claim that the attendants of the meeting were not farmers, but imposters who had been sourced and paid to purport to be farmers.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, District 4 director under the New NOCO Mr. Lucas Maina claimed that the elections did not follow the legal process required to execute any organization election thus, accusing the organizers for not communicating to the farmers as well as spirants not being selected by the farmers.
“That was not an election because there was no fair chance granted to all the farmers to vote in their own representatives,” said Mr.Maina.
They claimed to have lost their trust in the management of NOCO and went ahead to blame it for exploiting farmers’ rights and instead of fighting for their rights.
They also challenged the Kenya Sugar Board for not having a firm stand on issues affecting the cane farmers yet they were the eyes of the government upon the farmers.
“Kenya Sugar Board also put a blind eye on the injustices bestowed upon farmers, they see faults going on and they just ignore,” said Mr.Maina.
They protested against working with the elected directors claiming that most of them are among the perpetrators who were taken to court for stealing from NOCO SACCO millions of money that brought down the company.
The farmers also opposed the proposal made during the meeting at Pan Paper to have the farmers deducted 15% from their earnings for savings in the NOCO SACCO that would later be used to purchase shares during the privatization of Nzoia Sugar Company.
“How can they be able to buy shares for farmers yet they are the same people who have stolen from us?” said Mr. Maina.
They disclosed that NOCO owes Kenya Sugar Board Sh.560 Million which was brought about by mismanagement of funds at the company.
However, Mr. Wamang’oli (left) dismissed the claims terming them as baseless and revealed that the complainers were not members of the NOCO Company but instead belonged to New NOCO.
He further said that New NOCO is only certified to fight for rights of farmers who are contracted to millers and other private sugar firms and not Nzoia Sugar Company.
“Those complaining are not part of NOCO and hence have no right interfering with elections done in NOCO , for any case they are only allowed to defend farmers contracted to millers and not Nzoia Sugar,” said Mr. Wamang’oli.
He also explained that the elections were held after a 21 days’ notice as required by the law which was followed with advertisement in media houses.
He also says that the meeting was attended by farmers and not imposters as claimed by Mr. Miana and also urged him to keep off issues in NOCO and to wait for them in court during the hearing of their case.
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