18 June 2017

Kenya: State Fails to Account for Foreign Food Donations - Odinga

The National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate Raila Odinga has accused the government of failing to account for food donations from international partners to support efforts to fight hunger.

Mr Odinga said the Jubilee administration has refused to declare how much support it has received and how it has used it as requested by the Heads of Missions and the Development Partner Group.

"Without this information, donor partners and agencies cannot channel more support to our people.

"The President is in business as usual looking for votes and wishing the famine away while mourning just like all other Kenyans," the former Prime Minister said at a press conference in Nairobi.

MOMBASA PORT

Early this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared drought a national disaster and asked for assistance from external donors in containing the crisis.

Mr Odinga said donors responded to the President's appeal but that the government has failed to account for it.

He said a consignment of 20,100 metric tonnes of rice donated by China is yet to be cleared at the port of Mombasa, raising queries about the Government's commitment to fight hunger.

"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," he said.

SEEKING FOR VOTES

Mr Odinga claimed the Jubilee administration wanted to starve Kenyans into desperation, submission and surrender; claiming it was withholding its services with a view to procuring and supplying food in the final weeks to elections so that relief food could be used as a tool to buy support as was the case during the Kanu days.

"It is a cruel and heartless way to seek to retain power. President 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," he charged and accused the President of making no efforts to enter into Government-to-Government negotiations with any country to secure maize for the public.

MAIZE IMPORT

President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto were last week fighting to address the maize flour shortage while on a campaign tour in Busia.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said he expected the food security situation to gradually improve since harvesting has already begun.

He also said prices of some commodities such as black beans (njahi) are declining, which will make them more affordable for Kenyans.

Mr Bett was speaking in Nairobi at a meeting with the Council of Governors and Agriculture executives from all counties.

Acknowledging that some parts of the country are still facing drought and food insecurity, he added that the government had mapped out logistics for maize arriving at the port to ensure there is no delay.

PANIC BUYING

Elsewhere, the maize flour shortage has pushed Nyandarua County to form a taskforce to establish claims that a cartel is behind the crisis.

But some traders have claimed that the shortage is as a result of panic buying.

The taskforce was formed at a meeting convened last week by County Commissioner Samuel Kimiti.

"We want to know whether it is true that people are buying in bulk for fear of stocks running out or if there are unscrupulous traders repackaging it for sale at a higher price," Mr Kimiti said.

And in Meru County, a spot check at some popular supermarkets like Mathaais and Tuskys revealed that they had stocked packets of wheat flour in place of maize flour.

Residents now fear that the price of wheat flour will be raised due to the high demand.

Reported by Ibrahim Oruko, Collins Omulo, Steve Njuguna, Peter Mburu Waikwa Maina and Isabel Githae

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