The Ministry of Agriculture and the Attorney-General have been given 90 days to regularise the transfer of the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) to the military.
The High Court on Monday reversed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order issued last September following a petition challenging the move filed by the Law Society of Kenya.
Justice Anthony Mrima ruled that the transfer was in violation of Article 10 of the Constitution for lack of public participation.
The President, through an Executive Order, reassigned the ministerial roles of KMC from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) which falls under the Defence ministry in a bid to give the cash-strapped State-owned firm a lifeline.
“This court declares the said decision constitutionally infirm. The decision is hereby quashed,” ruled judge Mrima.
The lawyers’ lobby had also argued that the responsibilities of the parastatal could not be transferred without an amendment to the Kenya Meat Commission Act. The lawyers also termed the move as commercialisation of the Ministry of Defence, which is inconsistent with the provisions of the Forces Act.
The two arguments were, however, dismissed by the court.
The judge said his quash order would remain suspended for 90 days to allow the AG and the Agriculture ministry to regularise the situation given that the ministerial roles and budgets had already been transferred and effected.
The Agriculture ministry had defended the transfer of the KMC to the KDF saying the move would help improve its fortunes since the military is a big consumer of its products and that the direct budget that would be under the Defence department, eliminating delays on payments.
Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said the firm is on a recovery path with military staff involved in upgrading the Athi River-based meat processer, which had cut costs that would have been incurred by hiring a firm to perform the task.
“KMC stands to benefit more under the Department of Defence because of the huge market and technical personnel to undertake the maintenance work at the aging plant,” Mr Kimtai told the Business Daily on Tuesday.
The government had previously announced that it would commence the process of selling KMC following the formation of a task force to come up with a privatisation plan.
The State reckons that privatisation would make it economically viable and boost export of Kenya’s animal products.