Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
The fate of two Cabinet Secretaries and an ambassadorial nominee now hangs in the balance after Members of Parliament introduced new amendments to the sugar saga report.
National Assembly joint committee co-chairs yesterday succumbed to pressure and introduced the amendments that will see the ministers held personally responsible for the illegal importation of sugar.
If MPs pass the amendments, National Treasury CS, his East African Community counterpart Adan Mohamed and Willy Bett, who has been nominated to head Kenya Mission in India, could be hounded out of office.
Joint Agriculture and Trade committee chairs Kanini Kega and Adan Haji agreed to the inclusion of the new proposal, which was contained in the initial report before it was allegedly doctored.
According to the amendments, Rotich should be held personally responsible for the excess importation of sugar into the country and subsequent tax evasion based on the gazette Notice No. 4536, Gazette Notice No. 9801, Gazette Notice No. 9802 and Gazette Notice No. 10149.
MPs also want Mohamed held responsible for failure to undertake adequate market surveillance to guarantee the safety and quality of the sugar in the country when he served as Trade CS. The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), which is mandated to ensure goods in the Kenyans market are of good quality, falls under the Trade docket.
Bett is on the spot for recommending waiver of duty for the 14 companies which imported sugar under Gazette notice No. 9802 during his tenure as Agriculture minister.
The National Assembly is scheduled to debate the committee report today after Speaker Justin Muturi postponed debate last week following claims that the original report had been sugar-coated and the phrases “personal responsibility” replaced with “be investigated” hours before it was tabled in the report. The doctoring allegations have been attributed to vested interests among committee members.
“Notice is given that the co-chairs of the Joint Departmental Committees on Agriculture & Livestock and Trade, Industry & Cooperatives intend to move the following amendments to the House,” reads the amendments in part.
Meanwhile, Rotich’s woos are far from over as Kimilili MP Didmus Baraza revealed he has prepared a petition to have the CS removed from officer over the sugar saga as well as sanctioning the payment of Sh1.5 billion for the disputed Ruaraka school land.
He said 96 MPs have signed the petition.
Earlier, as MPs debated the sugar report, it emerged that some legislators were pushing for further amendments to the report to name a sugar baron, while others attempted to use the new window opened by the committee chairs to also introduce amendments to save the trio.
The National Assembly was a hive of activity as MPs and powerful individuals in government could be seen doing the last-minute lobbying to try and save the two CSs.
Members in support of the new amendments, however, vowed not to relent in ensuring the ministers are held accountable for putting lives of Kenyans to risk.
“The power against this document is huge. I can tell you there will be war here tomorrow (today) to protect certain interests,” said Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati.