NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 18 – Kiprono Kittony and Laban Onditi Rao were on Monday elected unopposed as chairman and vice-chairman respectively of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI).
Each of them had faced opposition, but their opponents were disqualified by the appointed Independent Electoral Board (IEB) for falling short of the required qualifications.
The IEB Secretary Martin Waliaula said Nyamanya Ondiba from Kisii county was barred from contesting the chairmanship after he issued a fake bankers cheque, while Harman Kasili from Bungoma County was disqualified in the vice chairman’s nominations for not being able to pay the requisite Sh30,000 fee.
“One must pay the nominations fee,” insisted Waliaula quoting the election rules.
The newly elected vice chairman expressed hope that the chamber would have a fresh start following many years of leadership wrangles.
“We cannot lead this chamber through courts forever; we want people who have the mandate of the members. And the new M and A (Memorandum and Articles of Association) declared that nobody should go to court,” Onditi said.
Kittony was not in the meeting as he is out of the country.
Nine directors were also elected by the National Governing Council of the chamber.
However, the polls were not short of drama after Tony Mutua, a member from Eastern region, caused a scene complaining that he was disqualified illegally from the appointments of the national directors.
“The representative from Eastern is new to us and is a foreigner to the business community in Eastern,” he complained.
“You don’t come to the voting hall, and decide now that you are the candidate, when you never even filled the nomination forms or know how they even look like,” was the immediate rebuttal from John Ojija the National Director representing Western Province.
Factions led by David Githere, Kittony, Stephen Mbugua and Edward Kings Maina have been wrangling since May 2007 for the top position after elections for national officials of the chamber ended in a dispute.
The elections were to be held again on April 30 2012 but were postponed to last Friday after all the parties met the Attorney General and the Registrar General and agreed to postpone them for 45 days and resolve the critical issues, especially withdraw all pending court cases.
However the consent was later not signed by all factions, something which may lead to a new dispute, if the opposing sides do not agree with Monday elections.
But the IEB which was being advised by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in conducting the elections from the grassroots level says it is determined to ensure that the chamber comes back to life.
KNCCI was established in 1965 as the umbrella body of the private sector after the merger of the then three existing Chambers of Commerce; the Asian, the European and the African Chambers.
Its membership is open to all businessmen with different tariffs for different business scales.
It is also recognized by the United Nations Security Council under International Chambers of Commerce.