African Press International (API)

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Posted by African Press International on February 21, 2010

Time is long overdue to cut our losses folks; this coalition government has proved irrevocably unworkable; it is simply NOT working, I mean it hasnt worked but isnt it very clear by now? It is time we went back to the drawing board. The ongoing FPE, Maize saga once again prove that in Kenya, there are two sets of rules and standards; one for the High and Mighty in Society and their friends and one for everyone else. It has also validated many Kenyans heightened misgivings about this Grand Coalition government arrangement; this thing was doomed to fail from the start. God help us wake up from this nightmare that no Kenyan asked/voted for; it is too costly with its very astronomical human and economic cost. Kenyans are worse off under this coalition than they were in the first NARK administration, the looting has only tripled and Kenyans are burdened with the excessive mouths at the top to feed. These malfeasances in government are a direct consequence of the calls for Mass Action and the ensuing violence. Kenyans are tallying the ever rising REAL COST both in human lives and resources of Post Election Violence thus far and we dont like it AT ALL. I want you, the reader, to follow the following narrative on the maize scandal, all of which is in the public domain by the way, and then project it by a factor of all the other scandals, exposed such as (Goldenberg, Kisumu Molasses Plant, Grand Regency sale, Immigration, Triton Energy, Anglo Leasing, Kenya Pipelines, Kenya Airports Authority, Kazi Kwa Vijana, Women Development Fund, Medical Services Procurement, FPE, etc) ,and yet to be exposed and judge for yourself the sincerity of the werewolves now shouting at the top of their lungs about corruption in Kenya:

ؠ In October 2008, following the Post Election violence of 2007/2008, an estimated 3.5 Million bags of maize were destroyed, the Kenyan government, supposedly in order to fill the gap, avert famine, subsidize and stabilize consumer prices, imported maize at KSh3,750 per 90 kilogram bag with the intention of selling at KSh1,750 to bona fide millers and distribute to the affected populations. The government used taxpayer money to pay for the premium of KSH2000 per bag. The purchase/tendering was single sourced by a group (Ad Hoc Committee on Food Security) headed/chaired by Prime Minister Raila Odinga. No explanation has ever been given as to how the import price of KSh3,750 was arrived at. There was NO reason given why government procurement procedures were scuttled or why other interested companies couldnt openly bid for the import tenders

ؠ Farmers began hoarding maize in protest against the Governments decision to fix their price of the crop at a much lower rate than what is paid for imports. As stated before, the Government was paying KSh3,750 for every sack of imported maize but paid domestic farmers only KSh1,950 for the same quantity of the grain!

ؠ In April, 2009 Parliaments Departmental Committee on Agriculture, Lands and Natural Resources called for investigations to be carried out the maize imports.

ؠ Prime Minister Raila Odinga, his family and staff were adversely named in the subsequent report by the committee, as beneficiaries of the fraudulent scheme to inflate the purchase price of the maize to profiteer on the back-end.

ؠ After these issues were raised in the report, in an attempt to cover up the PMs alleged involvement in the scheme, the adverse recommendation against the Prime Minister, his family and staff was expunged for being politically engineered and absolutely clumsy. Instead they deferred responsibility for the questionable tendering for importation to the NCPB as the lead government agency for managing all aspects of grain importations into the country. Elsewhere on earth, this qualifies as passing the buck

ؠ The top management of the NCPB, led by its Managing Director Prof. Gideon Misoi, was also named by Parliaments Departmental committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Co-operatives as partially responsible in the irregular importation of maize. Additionally, allegations of impropriety were that some allocations of maize to entities/ individuals were done contrary to government policy at the time of allocating to millers according to their capacity. William Ruto, The Agriculture Minister however maintained that no law was broken in the allocations!

ؠ 15 members of the current Parliament, some of them ministers and senior government officials, implicated as having written letters to the NCPB to allocate maize to their associates, friends or constituents. They include Hon. Henry Kosgei (Minister for Industrialization), Dr. Kilemi Mwiria (Assistant Minister for High Education Science and Technology), Hon. Kareke Mbiuki (Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Emilio Kathuri, Hon. Isaac Ruto, and Hon. Gitobu Imanyara) among others.

ؠ The Prime Ministers office, Ministries of Agriculture, Special programmes and Finance are All trustees of the Strategic Grain Reserve. As trustees, they authorized the release of the grains from the reserve. In one instance, the trustees are said to have released maize to the defunct National Milling Corporation alleged to have closed down in 2007! How was that possible? According to media report55, Interglobal Logistics Limited, a non-miller company co-owned by Dr. Mohamed Abdi Isahakia Permanent Secretary in the Prime Ministers office and Mr. Barre Shill, a member of the NCPB board, was allocated 10,000 bags of maize for which KSh19 million was paid. Mr. Isahakia worked under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Odinga. A search at the Companys Registry reveals that as of November 30, 2004, when the company last filed its returns, Mohamed Abdi Amana Isahakia was a director and shareholder of Interglobal Logistics Limited. Others were Mr. Wilfred Onyango, Mr. Ali Mohammed Abdi and Elias Bare Shill. Mr. Shill currently serves as a board member of the NCPB having been appointed by the Minister for Agriculture.

ؠ As the scam unraveled, it was clearly evident that intentional collusion among a few individuals including political leaders, businessmen, officials at NCPB and other government officials significantly contributed to the maize shortage. These individuals were privy to information about a looming shortage of maize. Rather than providing a cure, they instead laid out a deliberate scheme to profit from the calamity. Within a space of about six months (July to December 2008), large quantities of maize from the NCPB were allocated to imposters posing as millers who in turn sold the paper to genuine millers at huge profits. The allottees were reportedly buying a 90 kilogram bag of maize at about KSh1,750 and selling it to genuine millers at between KSh2,200 and KSh2,700! They defrauded the public by inflating their purported milling capacity to the NCPB in order to be allocated large quantities of maize at the expense of bona fide millers. A miller, for instance, inflated his capacity 10 times his actual capacity, from 10 bags an hour to100 bags per hour! A representative of a miller claimed that the NCPB had asked her company to inflate their milling capacity!

ؠ In fact, the allottees did not even have to physically move the maize from NCPB stores; all they did was sell their allocation to a genuine miller who would then collect the commodity himself. For example, Mr. Jackson Kibor, a prominent businessman and close friend of Agriculture Minister William Ruto, publicly admitted to having been allocated 100,000 bags of maize through his Mafuta farm. He said, I bought them because NCPB was selling maize. There were no restrictions as to who qualified to buy the maize. He in turn sold off the allocation to Mombasa Millers who collected the maize from the depot!

ؠ This scam also involves the handling of bulk grain at the port of Mombasa by Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd (GBHL), whose eight-year monopoly in grain handling ended in February 2007, but yet again had their monopoly extended by PM Odinga, sparking protests from consumers and investors. The Government, through the Kenya Ports Authority, had invited tenders for a second operator but at the last minute Prime Minister Odinga controversially halted the process, citing need for further consultations with stakeholders on the premise that a second facility would undermine investor confidence!

ؠ Of the single sourced maize imported to Kenya from South Africa, 6,254 tons (70,000 Bags) worth about KSH 261,000,000 (Millions) was supposedly deemed unfit for human consumption. It is alleged that some of these maize did in fact find its way into the domestic market but to this day the Government has never accounted for the whereabouts of the maize or whether or not it was in fact returned to its origin. However, reports published by the media on May 29, 2009 quote a government official, the PS for Special Programs, Mr. Mohamed Ali who visited the Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd. (GBHL) stating that the grains were fit for human consumption! So was the public duped and fed bad grain or was this a ruse to loot public funds? Where is the maize? The PMs ad hoc committee on food security was responsible for the supervision and coordination of these imports; shouldnt the Kenyan public be entitled to a full accounting of where this consignment ended up? When? How? Did we get a refund? Were any sanctions placed against the supplier? Did Kenya sue the supplier for damages?

ؠ The Penal Code, Cap 63 of the laws of Kenya stipulates that it is a criminal offence to obtain goods by false pretences: 313 of the Penal Code states that any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for three years. In contradicting the Government policy for the allocations to be made to only accredited millers, ALL these mentioned individuals above are liable under the Penal Code.

Of greater import folks is that corruption in Kenya is endemic and no one person or party can stop it alone; we the public never got the chance to review the report implicating the PM, his family and his staff or any of the alleged conspirators. However, as of February 2010, all the folks below the rank of Minister mentioned above were either fired or suspended. The PM and other Ministers implicated still remain in office! There is no equity whatsoever in this government; there are two sets of rules and that is the biggest problem to overcome in Kenya. The recent charades by PM Odinga are not genuine by any stretch of the imagination. This is nothing more than a kettle calling the pot black and a deliberate attempt to deflect attention from woes within ODM and to regain some political footing given his waning public support. President Kibaki has also let Kenyans down by letting these issues linger and fester this long; for someone who campaigned on ending corruption in Kenya, standing on the sidelines or fence sitting is NOT the answer otherwise you end up turning complacency into complicity. The sad part about all these is that we the public continue to aid and abet the rot in government by comforting our respective camps even when they are wrong; we fuel the fires of discontent and mistrust by only pointing at the opposition while conveniently ignoring our own burning backyards; truth be told, this coalition is a nightmare that no Kenyan voted for, the sooner it ends the better everyone in the country will be. In the meantime, lets clean the sleaze in government starting right at the top on down!

Send in to API by David Ochwangi

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