Fighting over who leads Kuapa Kokoo and its counter allegations

BY: Serwaa Nkyira Opoku
 Samuel Antwi, spokesperson for the famers with some of the farmers addressing the media.
Samuel Antwi, spokesperson for the famers with some of the farmers addressing the media.

Some aggrieved members of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union (KKFU) have expressed displeasure over the disqualification of some of their members from contesting the national president of the union, Madam Fatima Ali.

According to the farmers, there were no tangible reasons for the disqualification of some contestants who wanted to depose Fatima Ali as their leader and were therefore calling for an investigation into the matter, before the election in August, this year.

At a press conference in Kumasi, addressed by their spokesperson, Mr Samuel Antwi, the cocoa farmers accused Madam Fatima Ali and the Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo Limited, Mr Samuel Adimado and one Mr Osei Nsiah, chairman of the electoral committee and a staff of Electoral Commission of conniving to manipulate the electoral process to cover up some corrupt practices in the union.

The leadership of Kuapa Kokoo have however responded to the allegations in a press statement and said it was a deliberate move to “tarnish the hard won reputation of the Cooperative Farmers Union.”

A statement signed and issued by the Administrator of the Union, Bernard Missedja said: “These members whose activities are dictated by nothing but self aggrandizement and corrupt practices have resorted to using some media houses to spew falsehood and palpable lies as propaganda to advance their nefarious activities.”

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Press conference

At the press conference in Kumasi on Thursday, the spokesperson of the aggrieved farmers, Mr Samuel Antwi alleged that the reason why Madam Fatima Ali was declared unopposed for the national president position was because they wanted to cover up misappropriation and embezzlement of funds.

“We know and strongly believe with evidence to this fact that these three people are manipulating the electoral process in favour of Madam Fatima Ali to cover up misappropriation and embezzlement of funds that have occurred under her stewardship,” Antwi said.

Tracing the history of the establishment of the farmers union, Mr Antwi explained the recent development in the union defied its fundamental principles as well as the aims and visions of the founding fathers.

Mr Antwi said for the past 25 years, the union has used democratic means in every four years to elect the leaders from the district, zonal and national level and it was unfortunate this year’s processes to the elections were full of intimidation and victimisation of all those who were perceived as opponents of Madam Fatima Ali.

“We call on our foreign partners, TWIN and TWIN Trading Limited UK, Divine Chocolate Limited UK, Fairtrade International, Fairtrade USA, Fairtrade Africa, UTZ and all cherished partners of Kuapa Kokoo to intervene in this chaotic situation in order to preserve the legacy of Kuapa Kokoo,” he pleaded.

The Spokesperson further called on all the farmers of the union to rise up and fight against the misconduct of the incumbent national president and her accomplices to help protect the dignity as well as preserve the democratic principles and culture of the organisation.

Below is a copy of the response to the allegations signed by the Administrator of Kuapa Kokoo

The attention of management of Kuapa Kooko has been drawn to attempts by some self-seeking members of the organization to tarnish the hard won reputation of the Cooperative Farmers Union.

These members whose activities are dictated by nothing but self-aggrandizement and corrupt practices have resorted to using some media houses to spew falsehood and palpable lies as propaganda to advance their nefarious activities.

Management wishes to inform the public that there are rules and regulations clearly laid out for conducting elections and addressing concerns within both the Union and its commercial wing, hence, claims by the two members namely Mr. Samuel Antwi (Ofinso society ) and Mr. Nicholas Dzogbese (Asempanaye society) is most unfortunate and must be disregarded.

Mr. Samuel Antwi, a former National Executive Council member contested the Ofinso society election as president but lost. The incumbent president is performing marvellously well.

Mr. Nicholas Dzogbese on the other hand, applied to contest the National Presidency of the Union but was disqualified on grounds of his involvement in some financial malpractices according to the vetting report by an independent Electoral Commission chaired by Lawyer Osei Nsiah (Ashanti Regional Electoral Commission).

Additionally Nicholas’s inability to provide answers to some basic questions at the vetting which he attended with his lawyer was also stated in the report as the basis for his disqualification.

We would like to state that the vetting was done by respected Institutions and personalities who themselves are not members of Kuapa Kokoo to have any vested interests.

We wish to also state that the report of the vetting committee has since been released and shared among all candidates, including Mr. Nicholas Dzogbese.

We would further like to state that the vetting processes were very transparent and afforded all the candidates the opportunity to convince the committee why they should be cleared to stand for the upcoming elections.

Kuapa Kooko believes in free and fair elections but the principles underpinning such elections must be duly respected and embraced by all.

We are reliably informed that some members of the Union who have embezzled funds and are standing trial are the principal architects masterminding this propaganda to discredit the Union.

It is important to note that most of these candidates are themselves being investigated by the state security agencies for their involvement in various degrees of embezzlement of the company’s funds totalling over GHC5,000,000.00.

Their modus operandi was very difficult to detect until the current leadership led by Madam Fatima Ali took over and decided to sanitize the system in their restructuring exercise after discovering some discrepancies in the accounts of the company at various locations.

Some candidates were strategically being pushed by some of the members who have been implicated in various degrees of embezzlement with the hope that they will discontinue the investigation and clear them of any wrong doing.

Under the current leadership the purchase of cocoa this year has been all time high and unprecedented in the history of the Union.

This could partly be attributed to management’s resolve to fight corruption and the systemic restructuring of the Union to make it attractive to both international and local investors which these disgruntled players are seeking to destroy with their actions.

Ghanaians will recall that Kuapa Kooko in recent times have been in the news with its anti-corruption campaign led by Madam Fatima Ali who has been very enterprising and an astute leader.

The toughness and strictness of Madam Fatima Ali and the current leadership is demonstrated through her resolve to hand over a close relation who was implicated and is facing trial over 4 million Ghana Cedi embezzlement scandal in recent times.

To her as a farmer, her principle is that the farmers interest first before any other thing else.

Just as the characters are calling on the government to intervene, we would also like to call on the security agencies to intensify their investigations into the various corrupt practices lodged at the respective locations and retrieve the funds for the vulnerable farmers.

We are also thankful to our farmers who have thrown their weight behind our resolve to weed out all forms of corrupt practices from the Union.
We are calling on them to remain calm and be rest assured that every penny embezzled by these characters will be retrieved.

Lastly, we would like to call on the media to give the current leadership all the support as we strive to fight corruption in the organization.

The following members of the Union are available for interview should there be the need to do so:

1. Mr. Mahama Abdulai- District Manager for Kuapa and Kuapa representative on the INEC is the spokesperson - 0240965120

2. Adams Alhassan, President, Nkawei Society - 0209416045

3. Patrick Awutey, President Ofoase Society - 0245270084

Thank you. Signed:

Bernard Missedja