The rejection of a joint committee report on extraordinary contraband and adulterated sugar imports by the National Assembly vindicates my earlier strong reservation that Parliament was ill-prepared as the avenue through which Kenyans, and especially penniless sugarcane farmers, could find truth and justice in the matter of contraband and adulterated sugar imports, and redemption of livelihoods through revival of sugar factories.
Both 500,000 impoverished sugarcane farmers, ailing sugar factories and millions of sugar consuming Kenyans in general have been thrown under the bus by none other than their institution of Parliament. Parliament should therefore be in the spotlight of investigations as abetting criminal negligence and corruption.
Indeed, Parliament’s eagerness to take over investigations for which it had no capacity was always suspect. What played out at the committee and in plenary suggests the whole affair was driven by vested interests and compromised members. The whole process was designed to cover-up. As it would turnout, the report was a spirited ploy to exonerate known culprits. No one can be held accountable after this sabotage by the National Assembly.
Unfortunately, it is an indictment of Parliament that there are claims of bribery that influenced rejection of the report. MPs deliberately squandered the opportunity to amend the report. The lasting imprint is that in reality, Committees of Parliament are instruments of sanitising sleaze. It is the reason we urgently need an all-inclusive national dialogue to look at our governance structure.
Parliament has also opened a Pandora’s Box; they have opened the floodgates of withheld contraband and contaminated sugar to flood the market. Kenyans are the poorer for they will not now know if they are imbibing poisonous sugar; and sh10.6 billion in taxes due from the imports will be lost. Worse, Parliament has wilfully laid the tombstone on ailing sugar factories’ hopes of revival.
The long and short of it is that Parliament betrayed the trust Kenyans has placed in their elected leaders. Its image is irreparably dented. Parliament showed shameful display of complicity. Its action has emboldened sugar barons, aided evasion of tax and flies in the face of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anti-corruption crusade. It has condemned 5000,000 sugar cane farmers to servitude and killed the hope reviving local sugar industry.
It is for these reasons that I once again implore Uhuru to set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) to at least assuage Kenyans belief that government is complicit in impoverishing and poisoning them. That Kenyans now believe government does not care about the livelihoods of its citizens, is a matter that supersedes saving careers of personalities.
If anything, there is also a more compelling reason why Uhuru must act in haste to urgently establish the JCI. During debate on the report in the National Assembly, the Leader of Majority Aden Duale invoked the name of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Duale stated innumerably that imports of contraband contaminated sugar and evasion of tax to the tune of sh10.6 billion by sugar barons had the implicit blessing of the President. It does not matter that the invocation of the Uhuru’s name was used to defeat an already compromised report.
The president owes it to Kenyans to exonerate himself from this complicity smudge. The only credible avenue is for him to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry.