Why our sugar tales lack any sweetness

Lugari MP Ayub Savula (left) and his Matungu counterpart Justus Murunga addressing journalists in Kisumu. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]

The going price for your life, health and safety has just been set at the sum of Sh10,000. Our Parliament has decided that what’s required to sell all of us and betray the soul of our country of 44 million people is a sum less than what Judas received to betray Jesus.

We are worth less than a pigeon per person to our MPs per capita, we are worth Sh0.000227. That is all it takes to betray a Kenyan. Judas betrayed Jesus for between Sh60,000 to 360,000 (factored at current exchange rates) than most of our MP’s, no wonder we feel like our country is going to hell.

What is worse is what these MP’s were defending. In the sugar tales of our nation, there is little sweetness. Instead it is an almost drug cartel-like operation of which the one per cent profits as we the hoi polloi pay through our noses to sweeten our tea.

The first villains in the sugar story are the sugar traders. Men and women who have no mills but have the capacity to import sugar en masse because sugar is a fast moving consumer good.

Billions with no cane?

I am told that if I ever have a loose billion shillings on me and I buy sugar from Brazil I can make a cool Sh1.5- 2 billion in profit, at the expense of our farmers, millers and employees who work on cane at whatever level. But that is not the worst of it, these traders often don’t get their sugar from Brazil, they get it from South Sudan and Somalia. Yes, you read that right: Somalia.

It is therefore a miracle that the sugar wasn’t laced with more potent impurities as is expected from war-torn places. Thus the sugar from these places is not only potentially killing us and hurting our economy but it is also literally funding a war and the consequent killing of thousands of our African brothers and sisters.

Part two of this bitter sugar tale is the tidy sum of Sh84 billion. Which is not how much profit we have made from sugar. Quite the opposite. It is the sum of money government millers owe to farmers. A sum that has been outstanding for almost 5 years now.

That means, the people of Western Kenya are not poor, they have been robbed without the firing of a gun. The tragedy goes deeper when we realise that more than once we have paid out billions from the Treasury to help farmers, and that outstanding figure was not dented.

Word on the ground is some farmers have committed suicide waiting for their money while others have joined the queue of those who have gone to court to try and get their debts settled. In case you are wondering, there are 20,000 cases filed against sugar millers over non-payment of cane that was delivered at the factories, processed and sold and consumed.

They don’t care

What Parliament was also covering up was the fact that as we speak, some sugar companies are on riparian land. They are built meters away from a river and next to the only water plant in the area. Meaning that once complete and operational, the people, animals and vegetation in Busia will be treated to a high phosphate diet; complete with the side effects of cancers, diseases with a sprinkling of death.

Weirdly, it is the same MPs and politicians in the region who are singing praises of this new factory buoyed on, no doubt, by a further Sh10,000 in their greedy pockets. It is a shame to say the least, to imagine that a NEMA official would give his/her approval for a factory to put its effluent into a river and into a water distribution plant.

Basic logic tells you don’t put factories next to the water dam in Ngong, you put a factory downstream not upstream. Surely who bewitched us and died rendering their curse lethal and eternal?

It is this kind of witchcraft and villainy that the MPs were defending for a mere Sh10,000. In other words we are worth less as country than 30 broilers or just ten kienyeji chickens. I told you just last week that in the animal farm we are the chickens, but it seems our value has since dropped, we are now chicken feed.

This my friends, is when I realised that Uhuru must be one lonely fellow. He is fighting against graft when most of his MPs can be bought for less than a song. He is fighting corruption when most of his CSs hawana majibu.

Let there be reshuffle

Oh how I wish there is a reshuffle, and in that Cabinet we should have a driver and a mechanic for it seems the only quick and effective tool to fight corruption is a green building-eating machine, hence we need the driver to operate it and a mechanic to ensure it never stops moving. In fact, it should continue its journey from Nairobi all the way to Western Kenya and save some more riparian land.

Now I see why the British cry “God Save the Queen”, because I now find myself constantly crying from the depths of my heart “God Save the President!” Or else these other leaders will have us for lunch, dinner and supper and pay bottom dollar for our carcasses.

Mr Bichachi is a Communication Consultant. [email protected]

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