KENYA: Leaders warn mills will be sold to foreigners for personal gain

Published: 03/21/2018, 11:57:32 AM

A section of Nyanza leaders are now claiming that some greedy elements in the government are colluding to have local sugar factories sold to foreign investors for selfish gains, according to Kenya's People Daily.

They vowed not to let this happen and asked that farmers be given consideration in planned privatisation of the sugar factories and also allowed ownership to ensure their sustainability.

"We will not allow foreign investors to have a say on local factories that were established to benefit Kenyans," said the leaders who met at Sony Sugar Company. The meeting convened by Privatisation Commission chaired by Henry Obwocha was told to stop sugar companies from being hurriedly sold to those who will frustrate farmers.

"Foreign investors should not be trusted as they will sabotage cane development and import cheap sugar to flood the market to make millions at the expense of the local farmer," the leaders said. Those in attendance included Migori Governor Okoth Obado, Nyatike MP Tom Odege, Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Kitayama Maisori (Kuria East) and Walter Sirawa (Awendo).

They wondered why politicians from outside cane-growing areas were keen on seeing the sugar factories sold to foreigners ignoring the plight of millions of Kenyans who derive their livelihoods directly or indirectly from cane production.

The government plans to sell 51% stake in Sony, Chemelil, Nzoia, Muhoroni and Miwani to strategic investors and reserve 24% share for farmers and employees. Odege condemned the habit of few elected leaders in the government for ignoring plight of millions of Kenyans who depend on cane farming as a steady source of livelihood.

"Importation of cheap sugar is a scheme to kill local factories by politicians from other regions where cane is not grown for selfish reasons," he claimed. Odege said privatisation of sugar mills in the country should not be hurriedly done as greedy individuals are getting ready to ensure farmers are blocked from owning them.

During the meeting, cane growers passed a resolution not to allow foreign investors to own local sugar factories. They asked that they be given time to purchase shares in the companies proposed for privatisation so as to own them for sustainability. The leaders said the government should stop importation of cheap sugar being dumped into local market and rebranded by unscrupulous traders as locally processed.