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Sugarcane farmers vow to punish ODM

POLITICS
By Alex Wakhisi and Eric Lungai | February 21st 2016

Cane farmers contracted to Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) yesterday protested against the Opposition leaders for allegedly shielding individuals who looted the miller.

They told ODM, which enjoys fervent support in the county to forget their votes for not supporting efforts to prosecute the suspects.

The farmers also accused National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi of frustrating efforts by Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali to fight cartels behind the miller’s financial crisis.

During the acrimonious debate on the Sugar Report in the National Assembly on Thursday, Mr Washiali was ordered by the Speaker to leave the House after a scuffle with Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo.

Trouble started when the Mumias East MP introduced an amendment to the sugar report seeking to bar Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero from holding public office and be surcharged Sh577 million that the Government lost in VAT from sugar imports during his tenure at MSC.

But Mr Midiwo claimed Washiali was a business dealer at the company through a company allegedly registered under his personal assistant.

The Gem MP produced payment vouchers from the miller to the company alleging the Mumias East MP was a beneficiary. “I want to prove that his motives even as he pretends to fight for sugar farmers are not genuine,” said Midiwo.

Washiali also clashed with Lugari MP Ayub Savula over the matter, nearly going physical at Parliament Buildings.

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Yesterday, farmers demonstrated in defence of Washiali and warned CORD that it risks losing votes from the region. Phylis Nandayi said since the company slipped into a financial crisis they have been going through tough times.

She said the Government bailout of Sh1 billion was not enough to return MSC back to optimum operations.

“We have been subjected to suffering. ODM MPs protect the masterminds of our misfortunes they should be ready to forget about our votes. We will not vote for them because they are going to bed with our economic enemies to protect them,” said Ms Nandayi.

She also accused MPs from sugar growing zone especially Western of leaving Washiali alone to fight the cartels.

“The fortunes of our company started dwindling a few years ago. What we want is justice for sugarcane farmers and consumers of sugar in Kenya. Due to the mismanagement of MSC, sugarcane farming is no longer a lucrative business,” she said.

Political financiers

Johnson Nandwa wondered why CORD MPs led the onslaught against Washiali yet the coalition has enjoyed unrivalled support in the region for over a decade.

“It can never be that when those from Government are mentioned in corruption it is the concern of the country but when Opposition leaders are involved in graft CORD gangs up to protect them, corruption should be fought fairly,” Mr Nandwa said.

Speaking at Nyang’ori Pentecostal Bible College, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi said the sugar report may not be implemented as it implicated Jubilee and CORD political financiers. “I regret that Parliament is not serving Kenyans anymore. In January, I demanded that Parliament debate and pass the sugar report. Parliament had refused to debate it since 2014,” said Mudavadi.

He claimed that Jubilee and CORD legislators conspired to delay the debate.

“They looked for every excuse to reject the report. The best they could do is pass the buck; that those named should be investigated,” Mudavadi observed.

“Parliament is saying sugar cane farmers and six million Kenyans who depend on industry have not suffered enough. It has condemned them to suffer more.”

He said people in the sugar belt zone should now realise they are on their own and urged them to elect ANC to fight corruption.

Mr Savula said ousting Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale from the lucrative position of Parliamentary Account Committee chair was a clear indication of betrayal.

“He went to sleep with the enemy in ODM he has fought all his life thinking he’s cleverer than those of us who have tried and failed,” he said.

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