For the past few weeks, the Kenyan airwaves have been dominated by politics, but not the normal politics but the politics of ‘unga’ or the ‘unga’ politics as many people call it.
The politics emanated from the skyrocketing prices of maize flour that have now hit the roof for most Kenyan households. A 2-kilogram packet of maize flour is now going for between 150 and 165 shillings, up from an average of between 115 and 120 shillings two months ago. The government tried to intervene by releasing a stock of maize from the silos to the millers but that only served to bring the prices down for only six days and even before Kenyans realized it, the prices were up again.
The matter has since been picked up by politicians from both camps; the National Super Alliance (NASA) and the ruling Jubilee who are now using the issue to their advantage. NASA is heaping blame on the ruling party for engineering the high cost of living in the country so that some few cartels within the government can benefit and solicit funds for the oncoming political campaigns. The ruling party, on the other hand, is blaming the opposition for hypocrisy and taking advantage of the suffering Kenyans for their own political mileage.
The ‘unga’ politics have now taken a new turn following the arrival of a ship carrying maize that is purported to have been imported from Mexico. The government, initially, said that the maize had been brought in from Mexico to help bring the prices of unga down. The Mexico issue raised more questions than answers given that the maize arrived just hours after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) announced that there would be no levy on maize imported to help ease the biting unga prices. When the questions became more than the meandering answers from the government, and after the Mexican embassy in the country failed to substantiate as to whether the maize had come from Mexico, the answers changed. The origin of the maize now switched from Mexico to South Africa. The government now says that the maize had been ordered from Mexico last year and was lying in Durban South Africa for storage.
Asked whether the maize had been imported by the government, the government denied saying that the shipment had been ordered by private millers in the country. people almost bought that but the fact that the shipment was received by the Agricultural Cabinet Secretary Willy Bet raised, even more, questions than answers. As the politics of unga rages on, hungry and poor Kenyans continue to pay through the nose. The 2-kilogran packet of maize flour is still going at between 150 and 165 shillings.
There are several questions that have come up from this unga politics:
- Are the ever-skyrocketing prices of commodities in the country mana-made?
- Who ordered the maize being offloaded at the Port of Mombasa? Was it government or private millers?
- Where did the maize come from? Is it from Mexico or South Africa?
- Are politicians genuine in claiming that they have the interests of Kenyans at heart?
Meanwhile, the politics rage on. The hungry stomachs continue to ramble. The high cost of living continues to bite into the already empty pockets of Kenyans. The 8th of August is coming.