Bernard Gitau @benagitau
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday made it clear the war on corruption is not personal and nobody is above the law irrespective of who they were.
Declaring full confidence in the investigative agencies, the President said those culpable in importation of contaminated sugar be prosecuted, even if it is his brother.
“People were bashing my brother yesterday (Wednesday), I have said, if he is guilty, let them charge him. I have no problem. If he is guilty let him be dealt with. What’s the problem?” he asked.
A joint parliamentary committee probing controversial importation of sugar heard that Protech Investment Limited, a company linked to Brookside Dairies associated with the first family was listed as having been among the importers.
This was done without clarifying that Brookside, by virtue of dealing with dairy products, imports industrial sugar, but was not among the companies that had imported the contentious brown sugar.
Importers had latched onto import window with suspended taxation last year to close a deficit, but ended up bringing in excess sugar, including suspect and poisonous consignment.
Uhuru spoke during the official opening of American Chambers of Commerce ‘Big Four’ Summit at UN headquarters, where he was accompanied by US Under-Secretary for Commerce Gilbert Kaplan.
“This is not a fight of me against anybody, this is a fight of all Kenyans against a vice that denies our people jobs, essential services, ability to develop the country and to protect future generation,” he said.
He urged Kenyans and the business community to understand that the fight against corruption is collective responsibility.
“I have no problem, I have full confidence in agencies we have mandated to do their job. That is why I have been very quiet,” said the President .
He reiterated the need to develop trust in institutions to protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty.
“We must have that confidence, period! I ask all of you, please let us leave politics out of this and let’s do what is necessary for this country,” he added.
The President’s remarks come in the wake of government crackdown on contraband goods by a multi-agency team that has netted huge consignments of illegally imported sugar confirmed to be unfit for human consumption.
Some of Deputy President William Ruto’s allies are suspicious of the war on corruption and see it as part of a political battle targeting him and blunting his chances of succeeding Uhuru.
However, the President warned those politicising the fight against graft.
On Tuesday, Aldai MP Cornelius Serem claimed Protech Investment Limited, had imported about 180,000 metric tonnes of brown sugar. But Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri before parliamentary joint committee dismissed the claims, saying the firm did not import a grain of sugar.
The CS said the company applied for license as an importer in 2011 but never got a response from the Agriculture and Food Authority(AFA).
The CS also took exception to AFA and demanded explanation on Protech’s listing.
The fight against graft, including the sugar imports has created tension within the ruling Jubilee Party with uproar from a section of leaders seen to be close to Deputy President William Ruto opposing the President’s call for lifestyle audit for public officials.
Meanwhile, Uhuru said the private sector cannot thrive in an environment that is dominated by corruption.
“That is why I am expressing my appreciation to all the partners including the US Government who have strongly supported us in the war against corruption,” he said.
US Ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec said the United States would support the government in the fight against corruption.
“The United States warmly welcomes President Kenyatta’s commitment to addressing this issue head-on and will provide assistance in the fight, the battle needs the commitment from all Kenyans,” he said.
United State Development Agency will host a procurement orientation visit for Kenyan delegates under USTDA’s Global Procurement Initiative (GPI).