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Drama as farmers are locked out of voting exercise for coffee representatives in Kirinyaga

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Drama ensued at Kîangoi Coffee Factory in Gîchûgû
Constituency Kirinyaga County when a section of farmers was locked out of a
general meeting over their eligibility to participate in a voting process, an
act the farmers termed as discriminatory.

During the general meeting held in all the three coffee
factories under Rung’eto Farmers’ Cooperative society, farmers were expected to
elect representatives for their respective factories, to sit at the
cooperative’s management committee.

However, some farmers from Kîangoi were in rude shock when
they learnt that they were not eligible to vote since they are not residents of
Rung’eto sublocation in Ngariama ward, Kirinyaga East Sub County.

“They have never turned me away when I brought my
coffee harvests, why would they deny me my right to vote?”  Said Faith Wawira, a Kîangoi coffee factory
farmer.

She is from Njuki-ini ward but has been living in Rung’eto
village, where she has been married for about three decades.

She notes that she has a right to elect a leader to
represent her interests in the coffee industry.

“There are farmers who harvest less than 200 Kgs of
coffee in a year and have been allowed to vote simply because their national
IDs indicate that they were born in Rung’eto,” she said.

Francis Comba, a farmer at the same factory purchased a
piece of land in Rung’eto are but was born and raised in Ngiriambu of Njuki-ini
ward.

He also did not take part in the election.

“Every farmer has a right to vote regardless of where he or she comes from. We all have common interests,” Comba said.

They say that the regulation on locking out farmers who are
not from the area was implemented two years ago.

“This is a discriminatory regulation,” said Joan Wawira
a farmer.

She adds that society should not also receive their harvests if their rights are also limited.

The farmers are now calling for the regulation to be
scrapped altogether

While confirming the issue via a phone call, Rung’eto
Cooperative Society Chairperson Joyce Wanjiku said the regulation to bar such
farmers from participating in elections was passed by farmers in one accord.

“That is true. If your ID reads you are not from
Rung’eto sub location you cannot vote,” she said and then hung up the
phone.

Edward Nyaga, a Cooperative officer in Kirinyaga county
notes concurs with the farmers that the regulation is discriminatory.

“In our next meeting, I will explain to the management
the stipulations of the cooperative act on such matters,” Nyaga said.

But despite of that confusion, elections were still carried
out and Davis Muchira elected to represent farmers from Kîangoi coffee factory,
while Linus Mucira and Jacob Kori were elected to represent Kiiî and Karimikui
coffee factories respectively.





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