Rift rocks Igara tea farmers

By Rajab Mukombozi

A row has erupted between farmers of Igara Tea Growers Factory and the board with the former accusing the latter of refusing to leave office after the expiry of their term and mismanaging the company.
Igara Tea Factory is one of the leading tea producers in western Uganda involving more than 7000 farmers from the Greater Bushenyi districts: Bushenyi, Sheema, Mitooma, Rubirizi and Buhweju. In a meeting at Nyakashaka Town Council on Sunday, farmers from Buhweju alleged that the board clinging to office after the expiry of its term in August is intended to abuse the company resources.

“…the term of office of the directors expired. We suspect these people have a hidden agenda,” said former Buhweju MP Benon Biraro.
Mr Gordon Mujurizi, the Buhweju District councillor, said tea farmers are supposed to have an annual general meeting between July and August but no communication has been given.

Other aggrieved members have petitioned the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) over alleged mismanagement and illegal stay of the board. The petition dated October 1 is signed by Mr Naboth Mbagirenta and Mr Daniel Kakwaya on behalf of others.
Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, to whom the petition is copied, wrote to URSB to address the matter urgently. The URSB official Ms Diana Nalubuula wrote back saying they have set October 17 for a meeting between the board and selected stakeholders.

When contacted for a comment, the board chairman Mr Gershom Rwakasanga, dismissed the petitioners as a “small group” who are allying with competitors to undermine Igara Tea Factory.
He added, “I ceased being a board director when a new constitution came into effect in November 2017 because in the new constitution we would be there illegally. But at the AGM [Annual General Meeting] that adopted the constitution, seeing the crisis the stakeholders gave us mandate to manage the transition as caretakers.”
Mr Jackson Byaruhanga, the acting general manager of the company, admitted the board’s tenure expired but defended its stay in office, saying it was given mandate to manage the transition after a new constitution was adopted.


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