Collapse of sugar sector your fault, Raila Odinga to DP William Ruto

Opposition chief Raila Odinga is turning the heat on Deputy President William Ruto accusing him of presiding over the collapse of the country’s sugar sector when he was the Agriculture Minister.

Odinga claims Ruto dished out sugar importation licenses to his allies, leading to the flooding of cheap sugar at the expense of thousands of local cane farmers.

“He was the Minister for Agriculture, he should tell us who gave the licenses for sugar importation. He should tell us where the licenses are, his ally the Minister for Agriculture is on suspension,” said Odinga.

But Ruto, while on a 3-day tour of the Western Kenya sugar belt challenged Odinga to pay the millions of shillings he allegedly owes Mumias Sugar Company and desist from politicizing the sugar industry.

Ruto was over the weekend on a charm offensive trying to put out a fire ignited by a deal struck between Kenya and Uganda during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s three-day state visit in Uganda.

The deal, that has been the subject of intense political debate, will see Kenya let Uganda bring in sugar, and allow Kenya to export meat and milk.

The Jubilee coalition has been making inroads in the western Kenya region, with the Ksh 1 billion injected as part of the Mumias Sugar Company bailout project being seen as President Kenyatta’s attempt to win the hearts of residents in a region considered a political stronghold of the opposition team-CORD.

Odinga has been linked to the collapse of Mumias Sugar Company that was brought on its knees by huge debts and siphoning of billions of shillings through questionable business deals.

A section of western Kenya lawmakers have accused Odinga of seeking to make political capital out of the Kenya-Uganda sugar deal.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula in a news conference at Parliament buildings submitted a list of 10 companies, alleged to have imported thousands of tons of cheap sugar from non-COMESA countries between 2011-2014, at the expense of local cane farmers, a trade he claims was overseen by Odinga when was supervisor and coordinator of government business, during his tenure as Prime Minister in the grand coalition government.

Odinga now wants President Kenyatta to come clean on the Kenya-Uganda sugar deal and crack the whip on his deputy to save the country’s sugar industry.

The CORD brigade plans to tour Kakamega and Bungoma counties on Thursday and Friday for what it terms sensitizing cane farmers on the Kenya-sugar deal, as the scramble for populous western Kenya vote basket intensifies.

Report by Francis Gachuri

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