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Leaders in bitter exchange over sugar factories woes

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala in Mumias East on November 21, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Sugar woes have spilled into the 2022 succession politics as leaders scramble for votes from cane growing zones in Western Kenya.

ODM chief Raila Odinga’s supporters are locked in a bitter exchange with a section of politicians from Western who allegedly contributed to the challenges in the local sugar factories.

Raila, during his tour of Kakamega county on Sunday, said Senator Cleophas Malala scuttled plans to revive Mumias and other state-owned sugar factories in Western and Nyanza.

The former Prime Minister addressed two political rallies at Shiatsala and Sabatia trading centres in Butere constituency.

He said some leaders went to court to block the implementation of a sugar task-force report that contained recommendations on how to revive the ailing sector.

“A task force was formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to look into the issues afflicting the sugar sector and a report was prepared. However, some leaders went to court and stalled everything.”

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed said the politicians have been a stumbling block in efforts to revive Mumias sugar company.

“Residents of Kakamega are sugarcane farmers just like in Migori and they depend on sugarcane farming, unfortunately, some of your leaders have contributed to the problems in the sugar sector,” claimed the lawmaker.

According to Junet, some politicians are among brokers working against efforts to revive sugar factories.

Raila told the crowds at Shiatsala and Sabatia that he will prioritise the revival of the sugar factories if elected President next year.

But Senator Malala denied that he was frustrating efforts to revive Mumias sugar company.

“Those accusing me of derailing the revival plans are not being sincere. The truth is that they are not happy with me due to my political stand. It pains them because I support ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi’s presidential bid,” Malala told The Standard.

The senator said no intimidation will make him change his political position.

“We respect Raila and his followers but I would like to tell the former Prime Minister that the Western vote-rich bloc is under lock and key."

He said the state-owned sugar factories' leasing process is at an advanced stage. 

“The technical evaluation process of investors is ongoing and those with capacity will be given the greenlight to take over the sugar mills,” said Malala.

He questioned why sugar politics are revisited during the electioneering period with leaders making unrealistic promises.


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