Blame President Uhuru for Mumias Sugar financial crisis – Raila

Raila in Western
ODM leader Raila Odinga addressing a rally at Shianda, Kakamega County on Friday July 22, 2016

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has defended himself from the financial woes facing Mumias Sugar Company.

Speaking in two separate rallies at Shianda and Bomani in Kakamega County on Friday, Odinga said that allegations that he owes Mumias Sugar Company Ksh 300 million through his Spectre International Ltd are baseless.

“Those asking me to return Mumias Sugar Company money are being insincere in their demand. I do now owe Mumias any money,” he said.

“The financial woes facing Mumias Sugar have nothing to do with me, but President Uhuru Kenyatta.”

He pointed out that an apparent deal signed between President Kenyatta and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni allowing importation of sugar saying it has dealt a blow to the sugar industry as sugar from Mumias has to compete with that from Uganda that is cheap.

“Uhuru Kenyatta entered into a deal with President Museveni which would ensure that he (Uhuru) exports meat and milk to Uganda as Museveni exports sugar to Kenya. This has made sugar flood the Kenyan market to the detriment of sugar farmers in Kenya,” said Mr Odinga.

“Mumias has also been facing competition from sugar from West Kenya as well as cheap import from Brazil. These are the reason Mumias Sugar Company is facing financial tumult, not me.”

President Kenyatta last year defended the sugar deal saying it was more logical for Kenya to get sugar from Uganda than Brazil.

“When you say that I went to talk about bringing cheap sugar into Kenya, which cheap sugar are you talking about? Where do you want us to get our shortfall from?” asked the President.

He said Uganda is the leading export market for Kenyan products and any imports from the neighbouring country would only improve trade between the two nations.

“Let us work to strengthen our own in this region. Uganda imports USD 700 million (Ksh 70 billion) worth of products from Kenya. They export USD150 million (Ksh15 billion),” the President said.

The Mumias Sugar politics took centre stage on the last day of Odinga’s tour of Western Kenya on Friday as youth held demonstrations at Shibale in Mumias and blocked roads demanding that he returns money that he allegedly owes the company.

The youth who were carrying placards chanted anti-Raila slogans, demanding that the former Prime Minister returns Ksh 300 million he owes the company, as police officers sent to calm the situation remained on standby.

ODM supporters arrived with shafts and engaged the protesters in running battles. Police had to fire teargas to disperse some of the protesters who had blocked the roads to prevent Odinga from passing.

The situation forced Mr Odinga to use a chopper from Matungu after his meeting with the delegates to his first rally venue in Shianda.

Lasy year, Deputy President William Ruto linked Odinga to the financial woes at Mumias Sugar Company saying the former Prime Minister has not yet paid a debt he owes the company.

In his address in Matungu, Ruto had asked Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale to tell the CORD leader to pay the debt he owes the sugar company to help end the woes that led to temporary closure of the sugar miller.

During his tour of Mumias last year, President Kenyatta gave the company Ksh 1 billion as part of a revival plan.

Mumias Sugar then ringed changes in its management team, appointing Errol Johnstone to replace Couts Otolo as CEO.

Others appointees included Julie Kisaka, who took the position of chief of commercial services,  Josephat Asira (chief factory service officer), Voi Chiuli (chief human resource services office,  Eddie Odhiambo (chief supply chain officer) and Moses Owino (manager corporate strategy, planning and communications).

Others are Charles Chacha Sibena (manager security), Irene Koki Muasya (manager risk & compliance), Charles Kimiti (manager information technology) and Ronald Lubya (manager legal affairs).

Despite the changes, the Mumias Sugar is yet to recover financially with the company’s posted a pretax loss of Ksh 1.58 billion for the six months ending December 31, 2016, up from Ksh 1.4 billion loss posted over a similar period in 2014.

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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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