STATEMENT BY RT. HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH:
MEMO TO THE PRESIDENT ON UNGA:
On 7th June, we asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to immediately fly to Ethiopia and ask his counterpart to sell maize to Kenyans. We also asked the President to fire the Cs and PS of agriculture and the CS of Devolution and Planning for deliberately misleading Kenyans on the famine situation. We called for a commission to inquire into the present food shortage with a view to ascertaining and reporting on the causes, and to make recommendations to prevent recurrence.
Nothing has happened. The President is on business as usual looking for votes and wishing the famine away while mourning just like all other Kenyans.
Our purpose today is to remind the President that Kenyans still have no UNGA and to express our strong and growing belief that this famine has been manufactured by Jubilee; that it has a political purpose and the president is merely shedding crocodile tears.
FIRST, last Monday, the media reported that President Uhuru Kenyatta had summoned the Cabinet Secretaries of Agriculture and Transport to brief him about the UNGA shortage in the counties. We were shocked but not surprised.
UNGA has been missing in the counties even after the launch of the failed government subsidy scheme. The president was only realizing this three months since the famine started. All this time, the President has never cared to demand a daily briefing on the famine.
The hunger ravaging the land is definitely a matter on which the National Intelligence Service and county commanders ought to be reporting to the President daily, being a matter of public welfare and national security. Either the President does not read intelligence briefs or the system of government has collapsed. May be the President is just not in charge. Alternatively, the president just doesn’t care so long as the famine moves towards a wider political goal.
SECOND, Kenyans will recall that in March this year, the Government issued a drought alert and appealed to donors to scale up support. The donors did respond. However, to date, the Jubilee administration has stonewalled, remained extremely opaque and refused to respond to requests by the Heads of Missions and the Development Partner Group for information on how much the government received out of the appeal and how it has been utilized. Without this information, donor partners and agencies cannot channel more support to our people. The urge to end the famine does not exist in government.
THIRD, as we speak, a consignment of 20,100 metric tonnes of rice donated by the People’s Republic of China is yet to be cleared at the port of Mombasa.
It would appear Jubilee officials do not want to distort the market with donated rice because spouses of senior officials in the administration are key importers of rice from Pakistan. This is further confirmation that the government is the author of this famine and Uhuru and Ruto are shedding crocodile tears.
FOURTH, large maize millers who control only 40 per cent of the UNGA market, were allocated 90 per cent of the maize in the strategic reserves. The small scale, local millers and posho mills who command over 60 per cent of the UNGA market have been given no allocation at all to date. Yet the president has the courage to ask why there is no UNGA in the counties. It is all crocodile tears.
FIFTH, the President has made no effort whatsoever to enter into Government to Government negotiations with any country to secure maize for our citizens.
All the little maize that have fed our people have been imported by private companies that are also having difficulties with clearance and payment. Even the little maize that has come from Ethiopia has been brought here by a private Ethiopian businessman.
The government has not imported a grain of maize despite the famine. Even that Ethiopian businessman is not being paid and has now stopped bringing in any maize. Yet the government is telling us “tume tenga” six billion shillings to deal with the shortage. This famine is manufactured.
SIXTH, the entire Eastern Africa, including Ethiopia, has now run out of maize. That means the private businesses will find it even harder to bring in stocks. The best assurance of imported maize would be for the government to do a G2G and issue orders to local importers.
No businessman is going to invest billions to import maize unless they are assured that the same will be bought from them. The Kenya government is doing none of these. It is caught in deep slumber, and paralyzed by corruption, incompetence and conflicts of interest.
The Jubilee administration wants to starve Kenyans into desperation, submission and surrender. The administration is withholding its services with a view to procuring and supplying food in the final weeks to elections so that relief food can be used as a tool to buy support as used to be done in KANU days.
It is a cruel and heartless way to seek to retain power. But it has come to that for President Uhuru Kenyatta. President Uhuru Kenyatta MUST be human and come to the aid of Kenyans whether it will grant him re-election or not. The President must end this famine.
RT. HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH.