Former Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, says he will not rest until a sugar deal signed by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta has been struck down.
“The President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta has questioned our commitment to our region and our country because we have questioned the deal he signed with his Uganda counterpart President Yoweri Museveni,” Raila told Kenyan press.
He said most importantly, Kenyans love East African Community and want it to succeed, they love honesty more and treasure transparency and accountability in the conduct of national affairs.
Quoting Article 35 (3) of the Kenyan constitution, Raila asked Kenyatta’s administration to “publish and publicize any important information affecting the nation” first before making hasty decisions.
“Our position remains that the deal allowing Uganda to sell its sugar in Kenya is at odds with the desires and aspirations of our people. It is unpatriotic and a betrayal of a hardworking people who have long relied on sugarcane to develop their nation and their counties.”
He accused Jubilee regime of “trivializing and ethicizing” the matter saying it was not a Luhya or western Kenya issue but one that affected livelihoods in the sugar cane growing counties of Bungoma, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Busia, Kisumu, Migori, Narok and Kwale.
“We are talking about the impact of this deal on Mumias Sugar, Nzoia Sugar, West Kenya Sugar and Butali Sugar in Western. We are talking about Ramisi Sugar in Kwale, Sony Sugar in Migori, Transmara Sugar in Narok, Muhoroni sugar, Chemelil Sugar and Kibos Sugar in Kisumu and Sukari industries in Homa Bay County.”
He said mature cane as either rotting in farms or farmers have not been paid for their cane because the factories are making losses, the factories are making losses because cheap imported sugar from Uganda have filled warehouses and flooded the market.
He said instead of protecting families and jobs in these counties, this agreement will, on the contrary, lead to the total destruction of the Kenya sugar industry.
“With his signature, the President has turned the sugar industry into a lottery for Kenya farmers. It opens doors for crooked business and government officials who have the money and the connections to import sugar from anywhere, give it a Uganda label, and dump it here.”
Uganda has no sugar to sell
“We wish to make it clear that Uganda has no surplus sugar which it can sell to Kenya. The figures being floated are just part of the conspiracy and dishonesty that we must resist.”
As at December 2014, Uganda’s total sugar consumption projection stood at 420,966 metric tonnes.
The total production capacity on the other hand was projected to be 438,400 metric tonnes distributed as follows:
In the 2011/2012 period, Uganda was hit by the worst sugar shortage in her recent history.
A kilo of sugar retailed at Uganda shillings 15,000 (Kshs.430).
“So, Mr President, where is Uganda suddenly getting this sugar to sell cheaply to Kenya in the name of the East African Community?” the Coalition For Reforms And Democracy (CORD) leader queried.
Kenyatta defends his deal
Meanwhile, President Kenyatta defended the deal to exchange Uganda’s sugar exports to Kenya in exchange for dairy and beef products saying he would rather import Ugandan rather than Brazilian sugar.
“I say this to the leader of Opposition here in Kenya, Raila Odinga,” President Kenyatta told delegates at a conference on Pan-Africanism at Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.
He then turned to Raila: “If you want to accuse me of something, then do it but correct me when I am wrong. What cheap sugar? I would rather get it from Uganda than buy it from Brazil.”
Kenyatta said there was need to support “our own. We must think big and talk big. I say this with humility because he is my elder brother”.
He asked Raila not to criticise just for the sake of criticising.