History of Maize Scandals in Kenya – Maize, Money, Votes
The government’s move to subsidize the price of maize flour to Sh100 down from Sh 210 for a two-kilogramme packet in an effort to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of living, albeit for just four weeks rekindle the longstanding habit of politicizing the “maize agenda” in the country.
Ugali being Kenya’s staple food, the maize shortage whether artificial or genuine has often been politicized in the country with politicians either using the “crisis” to score what Kenyans often refer to as “Bonga points” during elections or as a cash cow for “eating” and this dates back to the 90s.
Government subsidies to reduce maize flour prices often come in handy but are quite convenient as well as most are just in time for the country’s general elections.
The average Kenyan consumes 90 kilos of maize flour a year according to the Consumer Federation of Kenya. Kenya in an effort to supplement domestic production and meet the local demand for maize has been importing maize from Uganda and Tanzania and also in other markets such as South Africa, US, Brazil and Mexico.
Maize flour prices hit Sh 200 early this year as the cost of living continues to skyrocket but the government has inked a deal with millers to cut the price of maize flour by half under a Treasury-backed subsidy that will see retailers who sell the commodity above Sh100 risk a fine of Sh1 million or a five-year jail term.
According to a statement by the Agriculture Ministry on Monday, the new prices will run for four weeks; yes just in time for the August 9 elections, after all Kenyans cannot vote on empty stomachs!
Ruto has No Moral Authority to Criticize Government on Unga Prices
Kenya Kwanza Alliance and sitting Deputy President William Ruto has come out to criticize the government over the recent maize subsidy saying it’s aimed at wooing voters for Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga but where does Ruto get the moral authority to even talk about this issue!
“Today, the war is still ongoing yet they now claim that they want to reduce the cost of flour just because there will be an election on August 9. Kenyans are not fools!” he said during a rally in Kamukunji.
In the run-up to the 2017 general elections, as President Kenyatta’s government and Ruto were campaigning for a second term, used the order under the Price Control (Essential Goods) Act to cap flour prices at Sh90 a packet after retail prices hit Sh143.
What now is so different with the 2022 maize subsidy Mr Deputy President! Isn’t it business as usual and you just happen not to be on the side that will take the credit this time around!
During his tenure as Minister of Agriculture in 2009, Ruto was linked to the 2009 KSh 2 billion maize subsidy scandal.
What Kenyans need is not the usual empty political rhetorics or seasonal cosmetic solutions to the maize shortage issue, but an end to the longstanding maize scandal.