The High Court has intervened to halt an international tender that sought bids for long leases of State-owned sugar companies.

Justice Chacha Mwita issued an interim order freezing the tender process following concerns raised by Martin Nyongesa Barasa, a concerned citizen, over the lack of public consultation regarding the decision.

Barasa, representing himself in court, emphasized the importance of public participation in such matters, stating, "The public ought to have been consulted in deciding whether or not to lease the public sector-owned sugar companies as all sovereign power belongs to the people."

In his urgent application, Barasa highlighted the violation of various rights, including the right to public participation, legitimate expectation, and fair administrative action. Justice Mwita certified the case as urgent, directing the Ministries of Agriculture and Treasury to respond within seven days.

The court's interim order suspends the tendering process outlined in the International Tender Notice until April 19, pending further legal proceedings.

Barasa expressed concerns that without court intervention, the government would proceed to lease out the sugar companies without due public process.

He pointed out instances where the government allegedly bypassed legal procedures, including a directive from the Ministry of Treasury to the managing directors of several sugar companies, compelling them to pass resolutions facilitating the procurement of leases.

Furthermore, Barasa argued that the government's actions disregarded previous court orders, including interim orders suspending the implementation of Section 21 of the Privatisation Act, which grants exclusive authority to the Privatisation Commission in managing privatization programs.

Highlighting the rushed nature of the process, Barasa emphasized the short notice given for board meetings and the lack of opportunity for public input, which he deemed unconstitutional.

"The 3rd Respondent (PS Agriculture) is in clear abuse of delegated sovereign power as this would mean that he is just a puppeteer at whose whim everyone falls," Barasa asserted, questioning the legality of the Ministry's directives to the sugar company boards.

The court's intervention marks a significant development in the ongoing debate surrounding the privatization of state-owned assets, with implications for the future management of public resources.

As legal proceedings unfold, stakeholders await further clarity on the fate of the sugar companies and the extent of public involvement in their management.