Torch Africa expert faults Nzoia Sugar Company leasing process, involvement of politicians

Torch Africa Public Policy and Governance Expert Barasa Kundu Nyukuri

Torch Africa’s Public Governance and Governance expert Barasa Kundu Nyukuri has said political interests should not override the interests of the community in the leasing of Nzoia Sugar Company. Following the move by the government to put up public sugar companies for leasing, various views from different quarters have been shared, with the latest move among a raft of measures to revive the sugar sector. Nyukuri has insisted that the whole process shouldn’t be politicized, noting that politics has already taken over to some extent, “Politicians have hijacked the otherwise noble cause and because of that the end results maybe disastrous to the local sugarcane farmers and employees of Nzoia Sugar Company.”

He said there is a need to depoliticize the ongoing discourse, debates and consultations on Nzoia Sugar Company, “We should always remind ourselves that political interference and conflict of interests have been the main causes of poor management and misappropriation of public resources at Nzoia Sugar Company and many other companies in the sugar industry,” he said. He further noted hat sugarcane farmers and a large section of the local community of Nzoia Sugar Company are yet to be convinced by the revival strategy via leasing. On the involvement of politicians in the whole process, saying they are the weakest link.

He shed more doubt to the sustainability of the leasing process, saying some of the leaders championing the whole process are power brokers and tenderpreneurs with selfish interests. “It is instructive to state here that some of the suppliers of Nzoia Sugar Company have adopted a wait and see approach and looking forward to be paid by Nzoia Sugar Company before it is leased out,” he added. The Public Governance expert also called into question the time frame to lease, 21 days, saying it’s too short and unrealistic for any public participation, “The elephant question here is why are they in a hurry to lease out Nzoia Sugar Company without adequate consultation and meaningful public participation?” He said the window for leasing opportunities should be 90 days with enough civic education.

He said if the debts at Nzoia Sugar Company and other sugar factories have been cancelled, then the National Treasury should release the debt cancellation certificate, “The debt cancellation certificate should be published and widely publicized by the national government and County government of Bungoma.”