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Maize imports: MPs split over plans to oust Kuria

Trade, Investment & Industry CS Moses Kuria. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Lawmakers are split over the planned impeachment of Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria for allowing the importation of maize.

Pokot South MP David Pkosing led the charge and vowed to initiate signature collection that would introduce the ouster Motion before Parliament.

But yesterday, some MPs dismissed the planned ouster of Kuria who recently announced government plans to allow in 10 million bags of duty-free maize for six months.

Pkosing maintained that there were MPs from across the political divide who had signed his Motion to impeach the CS, if the country imports maize.

Mukurweini MP John Kagucia dismissed the publicised ouster plot as political rhetoric.

“… that is more of posturing from Mr Pkosing. He must have been posturing for the benefit of his constituents and I can assure you that is political rhetoric. As of now we are more concerned about oversight of the government and ensuring that the Executive is doing the right thing,” said Mr Kagucia.

“If we were to import maize to alleviate hunger that would be a positive thing but with members from maize growing areas claiming that we have a bumper harvest, then we shouldn’t prioritise importation but consolidate what we have for strategic reserves and for redistribution across the country,” he added.

Kagucia said the focus should be on implementing an efficient food distribution channel that will reach all counties where people are suffering from hunger.

Sabatia MP Clement Sloya warned against the planned ouster of the CS.

“I can only append my signature if well convinced of the reasons to impeach him but at the moment we leave the leadership of the House to deal with it,” said Mr Sloya.

“Talk is rife of the impeachment of the Trade CS but I’m yet to see the process begin. There is definitely going to be a push and pull between the Executive and the MPs until their issues on maize importation are addressed,” he added.

Senate Deputy Speaker Kathuri Murungi dismissed calls to impeachment Kuria, terming them street talk. Murungi, however advocated for importation of maize to plug the food shortage in the country.

“MPs from the maize growing areas are just playing politics. They are just making their people happy by playing to the gallery. They should first understand what the President wants to achieve by importing the maize,” said the Deputy Speaker.

“We are faced with severe drought and the government, through the importation, is trying to ensure we have enough food. We should not wait for the harvest to be done so we can determine the food deficit. A survey can be done by the Ministry of Agriculture which then informs the amount to be imported,” added Murungi who is Meru Senator.

Another source who sought anonymity for fear of reprisal said the planned impeachment was an agenda by some lawmakers to “blackmail” the government for their own financial gain.

And Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua has censured President William Ruto’s administration over plans to import maize.

Karua said on Twitter that maize importation is a “get-rich-quick medium” for a reserved few and not a means to address the food crisis.

“Maize, Maize, Maize. Source of daily meal for a majority of Kenyans. To wheeler dealers a get-rich-quick medium, imported often needlessly at the expense of the local farmer,” Karua tweeted. 

“Ships docking with a consignment of Maize before rules of importation are known and when local farmers are harvesting,” she added.

She said the importation of maize was ill-timed and would have far-reaching consequences on farmers.

Pkosing has requested a statement from National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah regarding the planned importation of maize.

He argued that while millions of Kenyans were starving, allowing maize imports would hurt farmers.

Pkosing wants the government to halt the importation of maize and buy maize from farmers at a minimum rate of Sh3,600.

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