Kakuzi Plc came out publicly on 5th January 2022 to report a 25% profits dip in the last financial year. They conveniently associated these downward profits with low production of some of their products and global low market prices. The lingering reality, however, is that Kakuzi lost some of its biggest UK markets in the wake of media reports on its nefarious behaviour towards its host community and workers. Camellia, Kakuzi’s parent company, was sued in June 2020 in the English courts by 89 aggrieved community members who had allegedly suffered grave harm in the hands of its security guards. The alleged harm by the guards ranged from rape, killings, sexual violence and assault. It is for this egregious behaviour that Kakuzi continues to pay heavily; this time through a huge drop in its profits. This is in addition to more than Kshs. 600 million spent in compensation of the 89 claimants through an out-of-court settlement in February 2021 and as part of Kakuzi’s own legal fees. This is the truth that Kakuzi continues to conceal from its current and potential investors and the general public.
It should be known to Kakuzi that these market boycotts are likely to be sustained until all pending claims are addressed. This is the truth that Kakuzi will not accept, at least publicly. Piecemeal Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes are not going to restore its UK market, for instance. The responsibility to respect human rights is a global standard of expected conduct for all business enterprises wherever they operate. Kakuzi therefore ought to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights as well as address community grievances through functional policies and processes developed in consultation with the community.
We wish to reiterate that the aggrieved communities together with the Kenya Human Rights Commission and Ndula Resource Centre will not relent in their advocacy for corporate justice and accountability until all unresolved claims are addressed. Specifically, Kakuzi ought to:
- COMPLY with the decision of the National Land Commission of February 2019 directing the surrender (by Kakuzi) of ALL public utilities within ‘their’ land including schools, markets, police stations, hospitals, public roads of access, wayleaves and easements to national and county government as appropriate.
- RESOLVE all outstanding human rights abuses including workers’ rights and ALL claims of historical land injustices. Kakuzi, in consultation with the community, Ministry of Lands, National Land Commission and Murang’a County government; MUST undertake to resettle displaced communities back to their arable land.
- CEASE forthwith interference with community members and steering committees under the guise of ‘sensitization on Operational Grievance Mechanism.’
- OPEN with immediate effect access roads that continue to be closed despite a widely publicized commitment by Kakuzi to open 3 roads for community access. One year after Kakuzi’s promise to open the roads, only one road has been opened.
- CONSULT and INVOLVE host community and workers in the processes currently being undertaken in the company as part of the implementation of the out-of-court settlement. These include the establishment of the Operational Grievance Mechanism (OGM), the Independent Human Rights Advisory Council and the Technical Working Group.
- DECLARE the steps it has taken so far to develop and implement a human rights defenders (HRDs) policy. Public participation must be the bedrock of the policy as indeed the other processes listed above.
- ADHERE to international human rights standards and other frameworks that promote responsible business conduct.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission and Ndula Resource Centre will further initiate vigorous engagements with other Kakuzi markets to boycott any produce coming from Kakuzi until there is a demonstrable change in attitude and practice on the part of Kakuzi.
Kenya Human Rights Commission.
Ndula Resource Centre.