Student leaders of Kenya’s public universities have given the government a two-week ultimatum to ensure Keroche Breweries can do business in Kenya.
In a departure from earlier student-government tiffs, this time the learners seem to be fighting a just cause: salvaging one of Kenya’s indigenously owned companies from imminent collapse.
‘On behalf of comrades’.
Keroche Breweries, owned by businesswoman Tabitha Karanja, has been in the news lately in a do-or-die fight for survival as government officials gang up with competitors to sabotage it.
Speaking to this writer, Students Organization of the University of Nairobi chair Babu Owino who is also the national chair of Kenya Universities Students Organization (KUSO) revealed a mass demo has been organized in two weeks time if government agencies make good their threats to shut down the company.
The closure of the company, they say, has serious consequences to university students as close to 1000 students in fields like food science, law, accounting, finace, purchasing and supplies, communications and PR Â take their attachment and internships at Keroche annually. The company also employs graduate trainings.
“Here is a company that employs over 10,000 Kenyans directly. Many students, including some I know from here at UoN are currently doing their internships there. The kind of sabotage by KRA and KEBS, working for Keroche’s main competitor EABL is just wrong…plainly wrong,” said Owino.
While KRA has slapped the company with billions of shillings in alleged tax non-compliance, KEBS has refused to issue stickers to the company to authenticate its alcoholic brands.
Owino says they are in possession of documents to prove Keroche Breweries is being hunted down by well-connected individuals in government.
When President Uhuru recently gave orders for the destruction of second generation alcohol, Keroche products, despite being certified as safe for consumption, also ended up being destroyed by the hired thugs and volunteer youths.
The students say Keroche remains one of the friendliest companies when it comes to offering study placements and should be supported by everyone who mean well for young people in Kenya.
“With the mushrooming of universities in the country; even getting attachment places is an uphill task. Keroche has been one of the companies admitting many university students for industry training. Â Its collapse will be a big blow to students fraternity in Kenya. This is the memorandum we will peacefully present to government,” revealed Owino.
In a press release to newsrooms, the students claim some of the MPs who cheered loudly recently when President Obama supported women empowerment are the same ones cheering the collapse of Keroche, a success story in women entrepreneurship.
“The most active politicians in this infamous fight of Keroche were interestingly the ones who loudly cheered President Barack Obama loudest when the US President talked about women empowerment. Its worrying how they have forgotten too soon and are now fighting the great investment being championed by a woman. The Naivasha politicians who have been bribed by Keroche competitors clearly donâ€™t believe in women empowerment,” reads the statement.
“Because of the efforts of entrepreneurs, students from universities and colleges are assured of internships, attachments and jobs, which leads to the reduction of poverty in Kenya and secures the future of our young people,” the statement adds.