Mike Ratemo @PeopleDailyKe
The National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate Raila Odinga has called for a commission of inquiry into the maize shortage that, he claims, was deliberately created by the government.
He also demanded the sacking of Agriculture Cabinet secretary Willy Bett and his Devolution counterpart Mwangi Kiunjuri over the crisis. Raila accused the two of deliberately misleading Kenyans on the drought and famine situation.
At the same time, the Nasa presidential flagbearer told the government to stop importation by private millers and instead import the grains itself. Addressing a press conference at his Capitol Hill offices in Nairobi, Raila also alleged a conspiracy by cartels in the government to import maize from Mexico when it could “easily buy the commodity from neighbouring Ethiopia, which registered a bumper harvest of four million metric tonnes”.
He claimed the government’s refusal to remove the Common External Tariff to enable maize from Ethiopia — a non-East African Community (EAC) — to enter Kenya was part of the scheme to frustrate maize import from the country. The ODM leader accused the government of sidelining Ethiopia which, he said, could have offered a more favourable importation deal.
“Ethiopia had a bumper harvest that can put Kenya out of its predicament. Despite our neighbour being only one day away by road, we are receiving more maize from Mexico which is 45 days away by sea,” he said.
Raila said that while the government was fully aware of a looming maize shortage, it deliberately exacerbated the situation. He accused the government of ignoring warnings of a looming famine by organisations, including the United Nations and Tegemeo Institute of Egerton University. “The government stuck to its guns insisting on ‘available surplus maize’.”