Reforms at beleaguered KNCCI underway

December 15, 2011
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Trade Minister Ali Mwakwere/ FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – The restructuring of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) is now underway after a new governing instrument was developed and adopted by the members.

The amended Memorandum and Articles of Association that was formulated with the help of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), paves way for reforms to be undertaken in the organisation that has been bedevilled by leadership wrangles for years.

Speaking while presenting the document to Trade Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere, under whose docket the chambers falls, National Chairman Stephen Mbugua pledged that they were committed to cleaning up their image so that they can once again regain their reputation as the voice of the private sector.

“The brand new Memorandum and Articles of Association took close to two years to finalise mainly because forces against the ongoing reform process kept interfering through court injunctions, illegal elections and sometimes violence. Fortunately, all that is behind us,” Mbugua said of the document that will replace one that was drawn up and registered in 1974.

“We will leave a legacy where impunity that has existed in the chambers; where people have gone to court from time to time will now become a thing of the past,” he declared.

Besides the provision for a dispute mechanism, the new document requires the chambers to hold election so that a competent and professional management can be picked.

“This week, we are launching a national membership recruitment drive in readiness for fresh, free and fair elections under the supervision of the Registrar General and the Minister of Trade,” he added.

The organisation’s membership is drawn from across the country, with each of the 47 counties expected to elect their own governing councils and management boards.

Upon receiving the memorandum, Mwakwere disclosed that the chambers’ election which should be held within the next three months would be conducted under the watchful eye of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

He challenged the officials present to get their house in order first adding that once that was done; they would get the backing of the government.

In addition to their participation in the facilitation of the country’s trade policy and accompanying the minister in trade events and fairs, Mwakwere pledged that the chambers would be given back the mandate to start issuing the Preferential Certificate of Origin.

In 2005, the government through the then Agriculture Minister Kipruto Kirwa transferred the duty of the chambers to issue the certificates to the Trade ministry due to the infighting, driving the last nail on the organisation’s ‘productivity coffin’.

With the new developments however, KEPSA hoped that the chambers of commerce can begin to add value and contribute towards the creation of a conducive business environment in the country.

KEPSA Chairman Patrick Obath, who was among the members of the KNCCI Rejuvenation Steering Committee, exuded confidence that the chambers would transform into a vibrant and dynamic organisation that looks out for the interests of the business community and promotes businesses in the country.

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