Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi have indicated that the solution to the sugar industry conundrum may indeed be outside parliament. This comes after MPs shot down a sugar report in parliament last week after receiving bribes. The report contained information on the illicit sugar importation, and not limited to that, compiled by a parliamentary committee.
The contraband sugar saga had drawn the attention of the whole nation, especially after notions emerged that the sugar contained dangerous chemicals, including mercury. Cabinet secretaries were put to task to explain the sugar importation and a long drawn-out probe was started, that, undoubtedly, had to rely on taxpayers’ money.
Addressing the press after a breakfast meeting on Wednesday, the three leaders decried the state of the sugar industry, with sugarcane farmers adversely affected by the contraband sugar importation that has crippled the industry, especially in Western Kenya. “We are worried that the livelihoods of millions of people have been severely affected in the sugar sector,” said Mudavadi, “Virtually every factory is on its knees.”
He said the nation has lost millions of shillings because of duty exemption and that other crops like tea may also be embroiled in a similar saga if this issue isn’t solved. “This matter must be outside the hands of parliament. They’ve had their opportunity and we’ve seen what has come out of it,” he said. Mudavadi proposed that an independent commission of inquiry must be formed and that the decision rests solely in the hands of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has the constitutional power to set up such an entity.
His sentiment was echoed by Bungoma Senator and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula. “The solution to the problem lies outside parliament. The instruments in law under the Constitution lie with the Head of State to whom we’ve made the appeal,” said Wetangula. He noted that the President has made great efforts to support cane farmers through capital provision, but more needs to be done, “We want to slay the dragon that has brought these factories (sugar factories) to their knees,” he said.
On his part, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said dialogue will play a vital part in finding solutions to the problems that plague the sugar industry. He said many farmers had placed their hope on MPs in parliament, but after the bribing fiasco, there is an evident disappointment and they are asking for solutions.
He said if parliament hasn’t been able to effectively address the concerns of sugarcane farmers then there are many legal instruments at the disposal of the government and President Uhuru Kenyatta that can be considered, “One is to form a commission of inquiry to know what ails the sugar industry, what happened in the past and what solutions can be brought to bear,” he said. He urged farmers not to give up, assuring them apart from the report that was butchered in parliament, other solutions exist, “There are instruments that when applied properly will bring solutions in the near future.”