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Western MPs are a big let down to electorate, farmers


Righteous indignation by Luhya leaders after President Uhuru Kenyatta got chummy with Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and struck a suspect trade deal is an elaborate con game. And if the President thought he could pull wool over our eyes on this one, well, it miscarried.

We can only begin to talk of ‘shortfall’ when our factories are operating at full capacity but are unable to meet demand. As things stand today, sugar production is at its lowest level.

In June, the government injected Sh1 billion into Mumias Sugar Company and hoped to raise another Sh4 billion through a rights issue to salvage the sinking miller; the largest in East and Central Africa. A trade agreement with Uganda allowing it to export sugar to Kenya flies in the face of those perfunctory efforts.

With cheap sugar imports, Mumias Sugar Company (MSC)and other millers have no hope of renaissance; the farmers must change to growing other cash crops.

It came as a surprise that a few MPs from western Kenya, alarmed at the ramifications of the trade deal, declined an invitation for talks at State House last week.

Because such a meeting that excluded MPs from the Nyanza sugar growing belt could not have been called to discuss the finer nuances of an already signed trade agreement, it would be safe to assume the motive behind it was to secure their support and silence; how that support was to be gained is open to conjecture.

But while the invitation was snubbed by many Luhya leaders, a few were amenable to the opportunity to appear at State House. You have all heard the monotonous refrain ‘Luhya unity’; couldn’t the MPs have made a pretext of it by sticking together in defence of the poor farmers in the sugar cane growing areas?

Western has great potential which has gone to waste because of leaders whose perceptions are constricted to supporting the winning political outfit for sheer thrill rather than what tangible benefits accrued from it. When a politician from Western gets a belated appointment to a government institution for political considerations, it is naively held as recognition for the Luhya community, yet how such appointments serve the region is not apparent.

Leaders from central Kenya are some of the shrewdest I have come across and I now understand why they upstage their colleagues from elsewhere almost at will. They have a commonness of purpose and often, their perceptions are broader.

They rally their people around economic activities; microfinance, land buying companies, vivacious Saccos and women groups, something that explains why there is more individual wealth in central Kenya than elsewhere. These leaders understand women have a wider reach and influence in the community and use that to great advantage.

Now, what economic activities do western Kenya leaders rally their people around? Where were they when Pan Paper mill was being ran to ground? MSC wasn’t ripped off overnight, where were they? Gentlemen, get off your mental lethargy; the trade deal with Uganda could be a distraction. While you are lost in the inevitable cacophony, scheming minds will be putting the Mumias rights issue to good use. By the time you are done shouting, they will have settled and come around to agree with you; why not, lets revive sugar cane farming. Either way, you will have lost and gone back to what you do best; whine.

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