In the recent few days, Kenyans have been treated with what I would call, “The Afro-Cinema of Poisonous Sugar” with new episodes unfolding each passing day.
I am against illicit trade. I am against contraband goods because they deny our country the revenue it deserves. But I dare say that this sugar saga appears to be a well-crafted script with a specific end goal that will leave Kenyans feeling played.
Kenyans are now leaving with fear down their spines following a loud and broad declaration that there were thousands of metric tonnes of poisonous sugar all over the country.
In a joint operation led by the Ministry of Interior, with Dr. Fred Matiang’i at the helm of it, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation with George Kinoti on the steering wheel, thousands of bags of sugar have been impounded across the country.
Last week, Dr. Fred Matiang’i a revelation that shocked the country. He categorically stated that more than 1,500 bags of sugar that had been impounded in Eastleigh contained mercury and copper. Everyone who has ever bought or used sugar, in this case, almost all Kenyans are a worried lot.
We all know what mercury can do to a human body. We also know what large amounts of copper can do to a human being. The ‘revelation’ from the CS Interior was just too much to bear.
The CS pegged his conclusion of the presence of mercury and copper in the impounded sugar on the ‘lab tests carried out by the government chemist.’
Director of Criminal Investigation, George Kinoti, confirmed the statements that had been made by Dr. Fred Matiang’i as being true. Since then, the drama of arresting and harassing wholesalers has been continuing.
In a new twist of events, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Trade and Industrialization Adan Mohammed came out furiously to dismiss the ‘allegations’ of the availability of mercury contaminated sugar.
CS Adan went further to ‘demand’ an explanation from his colleague, accompanied with evidence of how he came to the conclusion that the impounded sugar had mercury and copper.
DCI George Kinot fired at CS Adan’s sentiments saying that he was very disappointed and that he was ready to be prosecuted if the impounded sugar will be found to have no mercury or copper. “I will meet him in court,” Kinoti told one of the local TV station.
Another surprise came from KEBS. KEBS, an agency tasked with ensuring that the goods that come into the country are quality, said that the ‘amounts of mercury and copper in some of the impounded sugar are below dangerous levels’.
This ‘poisonous sugar’ drama has not only divided the cabinet but now parliament too. Leader of Majority in the National Assembly, Aden Duale, claims to have evidence as well as the locations of the warehouses where thousands of metric tonnes of ‘poisonous’ sugar has been ‘hidden’.
Allow me to ask some few crucial questions about this whole saga:
First, how did sugar flood the Kenyan market? It is true that the local sugar industry has been affected but where did the rain start pounding?
It should be noted that there is a Kenya Gazette notice dated 12th of May 2017 that allowed the importation of duty free sugar and milk powder. The notice allowed the importation of sugar from the 12th of May to 31st of August in 2017. The notice was issued citing drought and famine in parts of Kenya which had been declared a national disaster. That was the time the ‘sugar rain’ started pounding.
Now, the question is, who was to regulate the importation? The sugar was not supposed to land in Kenya from heaven. It was to pass through various channels and agencies concerned. Where was the Kenya Revenue Authority? Where was KEBS? Where was the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization? Where was Kenya Ports Authority?
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a well-written script.